Jimmy Fallon was pulling out his own hair in the wake of his widely-maligned Tonight Show interview with Donald Trump, in which he playfully ran his hands through the then-candidate’s mane. And eight months later, the backlash continues to haunt him.
“I’m a people pleaser,” he tells the New York Times, addressing the kerfuffle for the first time. “If there’s one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun.”
Fallon maintains that the hair gesture was not meant to “humanize” Trump, but rather “minimize” him. “I didn’t think that would be a compliment.”
Regardless, he says viewers “have a right to be mad. If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn’t like it. I got it.”
In the months that followed the September interview, Fallon has seen his overall audience steadily decline; he now regularly trails his CBS rival Stephen Colbert. Still, Fallon stresses that he has no plans to alter his apolitical brand of comedy. “I don’t want to be bullied into not being me, and not doing what I think is funny,” he says. “Just because some people bash me on Twitter, it’s not going to change my humor or my show. It’s not The Jimmy Fallon Show. It’s The Tonight Show.”