During an interview segment with Fred Willard on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon this evening, things got pretty awkward for a second when it appeared as though Fallon took a dig at his predecessor, Late Show host David Letterman.
Here's the setup: Fallon and Willard were discussing Willard's past as a member of a comedy troupe called The Ace Trucking Company that made more than 30 appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Willard then mentioned to Fallon that Carson was notorious for not talking to Tonight Show guests before or after their appearance. Then, Fallon jumped in and made an off-the-cuff remark about Letterman, and a brief "Wait, did I just say that?" moment is pretty evident. Watch below.
Sure, this could have been an innocent attempt on Fallon's part to relate Willard's story to something else, even if he didn't do it in the best way. When you consider the history between Fallon and Letterman, though, things aren't as clear.
- Fallon now has Letterman's old job, on the network (NBC) that passed Letterman up for Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show—and everyone knows Letterman's feelings about that.
- When Fallon debuted as host of Late Night last March, Letterman welcomed him by inviting U2 to perform on The Late Show for five straight nights, something that CBS had never done before.
- After Letterman admitted on his show last October to having sexual relations with female staff members, Fallon didn't shy away from making jokes about it, saying "There's a new book out called 'Why Women Have Sex' that says there are 237 reasons why women have sex. And folks, Letterman knows the top 10."
Fallon often couldn't even get through one line of a SNL sketch without cracking up. And even though his smile came out again mere seconds after tonight's exchange, the bit of time when it disappeared is nothing if not worthy of a raised eyebrow—or two, if you're not one of those freaks that can do it one at a time.