44 Simple Steps

Photo Copyright: Lloyd Bishop/NBC

Photo Copyright: Lloyd Bishop/NBC

People ask me: How Does One Get On Late Night With Jimmy Fallon? or.. How did you end up as 44th President Barack Obama on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon?

I have boiled it down to an easily replicable process which contains 44 simple steps.

1. Be born looking like the child of a Kenyan and The Grinch.
2. Join the U.S. Army and make sure your last duty station is in upstate New York.
3. Just before getting out of the Army, call Schenectady County Community College and ask to be admitted to the classical music program.
4. Switch from classical music to drama after a few semesters.
5. After 3 semesters switch from Schenectady to SUNY Albany and get a 4 year degree in Theater.
6. While you’re at SUNY, read a posting on the theater department cork board casting for an Albany-based comedy show to be produced by Donald S. Metzner.
7. Audition for the show.
8. Get cast alongside Jimmy Fallon in the show and have the show titled ‘Loose Camera’.
9. Hit it off with Jimmy Fallon.
10. Admire Jimmy for working his ass off on his stand-up and writing.
11. Own the only other copy of Spike Lee’s ‘Doin’ It A Capella’ that you’ve ever seen besides Jimmy’s copy and sing together frequently.
11.5 Drive Jimmy to the woods and make audio tape recordings of you two doing voices while reading alternating lines from random novels pulled out of a sack of books you brought.
12. Watch the OJ Simpson Bronco chase with Jimmy on Frank Gentile’s TV and bond further.
13. Shoot an independent follow-up to ‘Loose Camera’ with Jimmy and Mike Goodreau.
14. Graduate SUNY Albany to attend NYU’s graduate acting program with Josh Radnor.
15. Tell Josh how much he looks like your old friend Jimmy.
16. Lose track of Jimmy for 3 years.
17. Get involved with spiritual practices and mentors to try and get your demons to settle.
18. Meet with your spiritual guide on 50th street in NYC in 1998, do a major unpacking of old spiritual garbage, go onto the street after, feeling invigorated and be the first person Jimmy runs into after his SNL audition.
19. RIght there on 50th street, assure your old pal that he’s gonna get the SNL gig — not that he needs your reassurance.
20. Exchange numbers and have him turn you on to a book he’s been reading titled: Deepak Chopra’s: ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success’.
21. Later that summer, have Jimmy call you to share the good news: he’s on SNL and that you’d predicted right.
22. Vow to stay in touch.
23. Don’t stay in touch and learn what happens when fame strikes an old pal’s life, yet always send warm thoughts of gratitude for his success.
24. Spend 13 years learning to enhance your formal acting technique by softening it with the fluidity of improv. And develop your sense of business by starting your own and running it for a while.
25. Spend 13 years in regular contact with your friend Josh (who still looks like Jimmy — only now..according to the internet, not just you) playing daily a strange word game you’ve invented called: Clanging.
26. Discover that your friend Josh is going to be promoting his new film (HappyThankYouMorePlease) on your old pal Jimmy’s new show and have Josh ask you if he should give your regards to JF.
27. Think often over the years about contacting Jimmy but make sure you have something to give before you do, so that you do not arrive in his sphere asking (on some unspoken level) to be saved. Make sure you have something to offer him as a fellow artist.
28. After a therapy session at the Veteran’s hospital, hear a voice in your head say: ASK JOSH IF YOU CAN GO WITH HIM TO NBC SO YOU CAN SAY HI YOURSELF.
29. Have Josh say: Yes and then attend the taping of Jimmy’s Show with Josh as guest.
30. See Jimmy for the first time in well over a decade.
31. Delight in hugging your old pal multiple times and having a fuss made over your obscure comedic self.
32. Have Jimmy send a staff member backstage after the show to gather your info and to make sure you stay in touch with the show to possibly do bits on air.
33. Respond weeks later by submitting a writer’s packet, because of your unfathomable and persistent desire to hide your live-performance talent away.
34. Follow-up the invite to do bits on the show with six months of calling, emailing and sending video of characters you do — send these at a polite rather than annoying rate.
35. Get asked to come in a do your first correspondent piece in a fake news segment.
36. Get married to the woman you love so you have a warm place to share after the curtain comes down at night.
37. Appear 12 more times as various characters and then get asked if you can do a Barack Obama impersonation.
38. Believe you CAN’T do Obama, but say you will try.
39. Have most stressful weekend of your life preparing for Monday’s camera test.
40. Make the production team giggle during your test, yet have them say nothing to you afterward, as they run off to show your Obama video to the decision makers.
41. Get called-in for your first Obama appearance 2 days later.
42. Go on to appear on the show approximately 50 times in a 21 month period as 7 or 8 different characters.
43. Have a son to deepen your sense of purpose and add to the richness of your life and depth of your feeling.
44. Ask a loving Higher Entity to help you stay grateful, playful, patient and persistent.

Thank you, Jimmy, Josh and Everyone else for my Presidency. What an amazing run. I hope ‘The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon’ runs forever.

“There’s no one sure-fire trajectory to the movies, no one route to Hollywood. There’s not one book to read, or one cafe to sit in.”
—-Michael Caine ‘Acting In Film’

“You never know when or how the people you meet are going to suddenly set off the chain reaction that will generate your career.”
—-Michael Caine ‘Acting In Film’

Dion Flynn is an actor and improvisor living in Brooklyn who can be seen weekly on the improv team Big Black Car Saturdays at 8pm at The People’s Improv Theater.


3 thoughts on “44 Simple Steps

  1. Loved this post. It brought both grins and pangs of empathy from how tough the creative life can be. It reminds me of that Irish saying, together we live in each other’s shadow. Funny how life connects, disconnects and then reconnects us with people who will have an important impact on our futures. Best wishes for much happiness & success, Dion!

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