Nearly two years after he took the reins of the "Tonight Show," Jimmy Fallon is settled in and comfortable. In fact, as he tells Esquire in the magazine's December/January cover story, he doesn't mind the growing competition in late-night TV -- or from Stephen Colbert, specifically.
"That's the way Colbert will succeed -- by being him. He's not Letterman and I'm not Leno," says the comic and father of two. "No one's the new anyone. He's him, I'm me. Don't even compare us -- to anybody."
Jimmy goes on to clarify that competition is healthy. "It just makes everyone work a little bit harder," he says. "This is my Madison Square Garden. This is my home court, I'm comfortable here -- this is where I play the best. I've learned from the best coaches and played with the best players. And I'm not worried. I play to win."
He's apparently always played to win, too -- even when he was a kid. Before he embarked on his comedy career, the "Saturday Night Live" alum says his parents made him take a test to qualify as a mail carrier, just in case his sense of humor didn't end up paying the bills.
"I crushed," he says, noting that he's got a knack for test-taking. And he was totally down with the postal service backup plan.
"I thought a mailman would be a great gig. 'Oh my gosh, you get to wear shorts'-- that's your uniform. It's insane. Driving a special vehicle, the steering wheel's on the other side? What is this?" he marvels.
Even better? He's a fan of dogs, making the mail gig a safe option to boot -- a key advantage for someone as accident prone as Jimmy. "I mean, people would love me. I'd be a great mailman. Yeah. There's no darkness on this one."
Asked if he sweats his ratings, Jimmy admits that he can't avoid the numbers when they're good and people are emailing him about them. When they're not so good, he knows, too, because those emails stop coming. But in the end, he holds onto advice Jay Leno gave him -- that the numbers will inevitably "go up and down" -- and lets other people concern themselves with ratings.
In the meantime, he's focused on doing what he does best, which sometimes means taking a different tact with political guests than other talk show hosts might.
After Chris Christie did a dancing bit on the show, for example, he admits he heard some backlash suggesting he as too easy on the conservative presidential hopeful. But that's not how Jimmy sees it.
" … I didn't really give him softballs -- we had an actual conversation," he says. "I'm doing a variety show. I'm doing a talk show -- let's have a conversation. I don't have one side or the other. My fans know that. I don't have to cater to anybody. I'm not 'The Daily Show.' We don't want to be 'The Daily Show.'"
The new issue of Esquire hits newsstands Nov. 24.
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