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10 Things You Actually Didn't Know About ‘The Tonight Show’

Writer Mike DiCenzo discusses behind-the-scenes mysteries.

Since Jimmy Fallon and his "Late Night" team took over "The Tonight Show" back in 2014, it's been, you know ... 

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From "Lip Sync Battle" to the "Saved by the Bell" reunion to President Obama's recent "Thank You Notes," Fallon's show continues to be the darling of the late-night TV. But even with so much written about it, there's still a lot the biggest FalPals don't know.

The Huffington Post caught up with "Tonight Show" supervising writer Mike DiCenzo, aka Mets Bucket Hat Guy, to learn some behind-the-scenes secrets, which included the real reason why Screech wasn't in that Bayside reunion.

Here are 10 secrets you didn't know about "The Tonight Show" and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon":

1. Sara from "Ew!" is based on a real person. 

We know Sara doesn't like H's because H's are "ew," but you might've missed that the popular "Tonight Show" sketch was based on an actual audience member.

DiCenzo told us it happened years ago when the show was still "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." An audience member said, "Ew," during a gross "Thank You Notes" joke. Fallon picked up on it.

"He was like, 'What's your name,' and she's like, 'Sara with no H.' And Jimmy sort of picked out this character trait of this girl ... and afterward we were like, 'We gotta turn this into a character.' And that’s how 'Ew!' was born," said DiCenzo.

Here's the actual clip of it happening on-air.

 

2. There's a reason Screech wasn't in the "Saved by the Bell" reunion. 

When the teacher pops a test, you know you're in a mess, but it's all right ... when you get a "Saved by the Bell" reunion.

DiCenzo told us he made sure the set was recreated down to the locker numbers for the sketch. The attention to detail is impressive, but one question remains: "Why no Screech?"

"He was in jail at the time, I think," DiCenzo said, trying to remember. He continued, "I don't know. We didn't bill it really as a reunion sketch. We just did it as a sketch, and it felt right the way we did it, and we love Dustin Diamond and Lark Voorhies, but for that particular sketch, it just worked the way it was."

 

3. Christina Aguilera added the Britney Spears bit to her "Wheel of Musical Impressions" skit.

Remember how Christina Aguilera's Britney Spears impression drove you crazy? You just couldn't sleep? Well, get excited because we went deep into the topic with DiCenzo. He said that was all Aguilera's idea.

While talking about last-minute changes to sketches, DiCenzo told us, "I know in 'Wheel of Musical Impressions' with Christina Aguilera, at the last minute, she said, 'I wanna do a Britney Spears thing,' so we figured that out." 

 

4. Break out your baskets, kids, because there are a bunch of hidden Easter eggs.

Like the writers on "Seinfeld," the staff at "The Tonight Show" works their friends and family members' names into the show as Easter eggs. DiCenzo said you can hear some of the names during the "Audience Suggestion Box" segment.

 

5. Hashtag the Panda started out waaay differently. And, no, it wasn't always Chris Rock or Ben Stiller.

"The guy inside the Hashtag the Panda outfit is one of the writers, John Haskell. One day, we had a run of panda jokes in the monologue and Jimmy had the idea to have a panda dance across the screen after each one. He suggested Haskell be in the outfit. It was supposed to just be a one-off bit, but Haskell's dancing was so funny, and he and Jimmy improvised this bit where Hashtag gets tired and wants to stop, but Jimmy keeps forcing him to dance," said DiCenzo.

Since that first time, the panda costume has been worn by Ben Stiller and Chris Rock. And the panda dances won't stop anytime soon.

"Hashtag the Panda is sort of our show mascot, and the audience goes crazy whenever he comes out," DiCenzo added.

 

6. The audience members in "Let Us Play With Your Look" were actually interns.

DiCenzo said he didn't want to lift the curtain on how songs get selected from the "random" music generator in "Wheel of Musical Impressions," but the writer did confirm that interns (not actual audience members) were used during "Let Us Play With Your Look." 

 

7. The biggest sketch fail was a writer committing a little too much.

"The Tonight Show" tries some ballsy stuff, and every once in a while it doesn't really hit the mark (puns all intended).

"The one everyone in our office loves was this bit where Patrick Borelli, one of our writers, was supposed to get hit in the nuts with a football. I forget the setup, but basically what happened, whoever was throwing the football from off screen totally missed his groin -- I think it hit him in the shin -- but Patrick still committed and did the wince and grabbed his crotch as if it hit him square in the nuts," said DiCenzo.

"The audience had no clue what was going on, and Jimmy just lost it. We were all laughing pretty hard in the office at that one."

 

8. No one thought "Two James Taylors On A Seesaw" would happen.

We've seen fire and we've seen rain, but we never thought we'd see the sketch Jimmy Fallon did with James Taylor. Fallon didn't either, apparently.

"We were in the creative meeting and we were trying to brainstorm some ideas to do with James Taylor, then Jimmy just kind of blurted out, 'Two James Taylors on a seesaw.' He just sort of started singing that first hook, 'You go up as I go down. This whole world keeps spinning 'round,'" said DiCenzo.

"No one ever thought in a million years James Taylor would dress up like a '70s version of James Taylor and get on an actual seesaw and sing this sort of ridiculous but beautiful song. Jimmy’s brain works in a brilliant, genius way. I don't know where that came from."

 

9. Daniel Radcliffe's "Alphabet Aerobics" was one of the most surprising segments on the show. 

DiCenzo told us he's "constantly surprised" by the level of talent celebrities bring to the show, but Daniel Radcliffe stood out as one of the most extraordinary.

"Daniel Radcliffe rapped 'Alphabet Aerobics.' That was insane. Who knew?" said DiCenzo.

You're a wizard at rapping, Harry.

 

10. Some retired sketches could still come back ... but probably not this one.

Like Jimmy Fallon's ... eh ... beard? beard-ish? beardling? in the clip above, some sketches have been phased out from the show.

"There are some that are de facto retired," DiCenzo said, though he doesn't rule out bringing a few back under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, it looks like it's curtains for "Wheel of Carpet Samples."

"I mean, I doubt that would come back," said DiCenzo, who created the sketch.

R.I.P., "Wheel of Carpet Samples." You gave so many lives a porpoise ... a tender porpoise. 

 

"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC. 

HuffPost

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