BFFs Timberlake and Fallon an online hit factory
(CNN) — This week, the wonderfully meta and kind ofredundant term “#Hashtag” was trending on Twitter. But if the sudden popularity of such a pointlessly self-referential term comes as a bit of a surprise, the two people responsible for it should not.
As you might have figured out with one glance at your Facebook or Twitter accounts on Wednesday morning, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake went and made another “Late Night” skit — this time, about how ridiculous we’d sound if we actually spoke our tweets, hashtag and all. Hashtag “hashtag”. Two minutes of rapid-fire, “hashtag”-stuffed back-and-forth was then quickly spun into Internet gold.
As providers of viral content, the Fallon-Timberlake bromance has been only slightly less prolific than cat owners with video cameras. All the cat owners with video cameras.
Every couple of weeks it seems Fallon will just be doing his standard “Late Night” thing, then all of a sudden it’s, “Oh hey, look, it’s the world’s most famous male pop star, just hanging out with me, goofing around and making an awesome comedy sketch.”
Of course, the Timberlake cameos aren’t quite that frequent, but it does feel that way given the “No Expiration Date” shelf life of really good, widely shared online videos, which all their song-and-dance skits quickly become.
Must be nice to have Timberlake as your personal artist-in-residence. “Late Night” already scored the Roots as their house band, but this?! According to Timberlake, it all goes back to the days when he was 1/5 of N*Sync and Fallon was that guy on SNL best known for struggling to make it through any bit with Horatio Sanz without cracking up.
He told GQ the two met at the 2002 Video Music Awards, which Fallon hosted. In the same joint interview, the talk show host said, “I remember talking backstage during those VMAs. I was totally nervous and you were nervousand we both ended up having good nights. We’re good luck to each other — like each other’s rabbit foots.”
The rabbit’s feet got back together the next year when Timberlake hosted SNL for the first time and made the first of what would be many sketches with Fallon, “The Barry Gibb Talk Show.”
Six years after that, Fallon was the rookie host, taking over for Conan O’Brien on “Late Night.” And one of the guests on his very first show? Timberlake, of course — joining Jimmy for another episode of “The Barry Gibb Talk Show.”
In the four years since then, the BFFs have teamed up to carpet bomb the Internet with tremendous videos, including “The History of Rap Part 1” (and 2, and 3, and 4), “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (as Michael McDonald and with the real Michael McDonald), playing two summer camp kids who can’t stop singing Toto’s “Africa” and earlier this month, “The Evolution of End Zone Dancing.”
We all reached Peak Timberfallon earlier this year when the musician was on “Late Night” the entire week of March 11, appearing in skits and performing songs each night from his then-new album “20/20”.
Which reminds us that while the videos, songs and yes, even interviews, are fun and all that, this arrangement is also a good business one. Timberlake has an apparently permanent pipeline to promote whatever new project he’s rolling out and Fallon gets to have the MOAG (Mother of All Guests) to help him grab eyeballs and cred both on-air and online.
Speaking about the success of the “History of Rap” videos in that GQ interview, Fallon acknowledged the reason that “those videos have gone so viral is partly because everyone knows and loves those songs. That alone is pretty cool. But when you have Justin Timberlake doing it, it makes it insanely cool.”
And with a new Timberlake film coming out next week, maybe a “History of Rap, Part 5” won’t be far behind. That would be hashtag awesome. Hashtag They should do “Poison”. Hashtag Bell Biv Devoe. Hashtag They’re right, this is a really annoying way to talk.
By Jonathan Anker