Fallon Fast

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The Bathroom Wall is by no means a classic comedy album, in that the stand-up material—performed in front of an adoring college-campus crowd that cheers every other syllable—doesn't withstand repeated listenings. Most of the gags are geared toward underclassmen: They're jokes about dorm-room refrigerators (which are, you know, too small to hold anything but the ice-cube trays), a resident assistant who sounds like Chris Rock, the walk of shame back to the dorm after a night spent in someone else's room, fake ID cards. It's cute, but hardly so cutting it leaves a lasting mark; more like a surface wound, if that. And two of the eight comedy tracks are about troll dolls, with which Fallon's obsessed; more than anything, they offer him a chance to impersonate the likes of Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, U2's Bono and...Cliff from Cheers, which immediately makes this disc feel about 10 years old.

Actually, the whole album is something of an exercise in nostalgia, a naïf's trip down Amnesia Lane. One song, "Snowball," is about nothing more than the thrill of the snow day; Fallon recalls fondly the days he wore "moon boots and a hand-me-down snow suit." The country-rock "Drinking in the Woods," which is more Jackson Browne than Neil Young, was inspired by high school excursions into the forest, where Fallon and his pals would get drunk and half-remember lyrics to Steve Miller songs. Even when the disc wanders into "punk," on something like "Road Rage," it still sounds innocent—it's a kid holding a cigarette, but too afraid to actually light it. It's as though Fallon has made a record about looking backward in order to move forward, and he does not refute the sentiment.

"It's almost like closing the chapter on this part of my life," he says. "I've done this bit, this act, for, believe it or not, 10 years, and you go, What? Ten years?' Ten years later I'm doing troll doll bits. That's gotta drive a man insane. How Twilight Zone is that? I'm not trying to cross over; I'm not trying to be a J. Lo. I'm just here to entertain...In Road Rage,' when I write lines like, If honking my horn don't get your attention/I'll stick my fist up your ass like my name was Jim Henson,' I want you to sing that so many times you'll go, Hey, why am I singing this?' The comedian's dream is you want everybody to hear you. That's why you're speaking through a microphone."

This, perhaps, is Fallon's most crucial period—a moment of ascension, yes, but also one of transition. When SNL returns in October, it will do so without Fallon's friend and foil Will Ferrell; the audience surely wonders whether it can withstand the departure of its Most Valuable President. Fallon is under contract for two more years and wonders how much longer he can withstand the grind. There is a burgeoning film career to consider, and he's "definitely working on a script," suggesting he's aware of the inevitable need to move on.

"It's like, right now, I just wanna enjoy everything, and when the opportunity knocks, I'll weigh my options and ask Lorne, and he'll give me my blessings," Fallon says. "If he thinks it's smart to leave now, I'll leave now. Nothing's planned; nothing's in the cards. I'm having fun, and I don't wanna stay there when I'm not having fun anymore, and I go, This sucks,' because this was my dream. I don't want my dream to become my nightmare. Right now, it's all ice cream, and you go, Man, this is nothing but dessert. I don't wanna eat my greens. Just take as many pictures as you can. I'm here.'"

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky