‘The Tonight Show’ Welcomes Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band Back to Late-Night Most Popular Must Read Sign Up for Variety Newsletters More From Our Brands

Viewers of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” got an unusual treat on Friday when television bandleader Paul Schaeffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band – best known for their longtime association with David Letterman – replaced The Roots as NBC for one night only. Late night talk show house band.

Questlove, Black Thought and the Roots head to Los Angeles to curate and play at the 2023 Grammy Awards 50 with LL Cool J, De La Soul, Ice-T, Missy Elliott and more.Th In a year-long anniversary tribute to hip-hop, NBC and Fallon announced Schaeffer’s return to Late Night on January 30.

“Paul Shaffer is one of the most important musical figures in the history of late night,” Fallon said in a statement Monday. “From ‘SNL’ to Letterman, he’s done it all. I’m proud and excited that they’re getting the band back together.

“Getting the band back together” for one night meant that Shaffer called up “very dangerous” regulars like guitarist Felicia Collins, drummer Anton Figg and bassist Will Lee, who played The Roots’ usual introductions on Friday. started his “Tonight Show” performance by playing the theme. The music, even down to their doo-doo-doo chorus sound.

“Hey, am I in the right studio?” Shaffer teased in front of a live studio audience in Studio 6B at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City before Fallon took the stage.

As Fallon filled his monologue with cold-weather jokes, the band pounded out each punchline, Schaefer singing the traditional “How cold is it?” Reply. Fallon even criticized Beyoncé’s potential Ticketmaster issues and the Grammys’ 65-year-old status, saying, “The Grammys are so old, they’re starting to not recognize the performers at the Grammys. “

Out of solidarity, old friends Fallon and Shaffer beamed as they talked to each other.

“What a trip,” Shaffer said. “It’s surreal to be here after all this time. It’s a coincidence that we’re here tonight because 41 years ago this week when David Letterman came on the air right across the hall here at NBC, it was our It’s like 41 years.St The anniversary we are celebrating. And thanks to you, I’ve reunited the whole band from the Letterman show — boys and girls — and we’re having the time of our lives.”

Speaking about Shaffer’s roots with Letterman, the keyboardist and bandleader told Fallon that after being the pianist on the first five seasons of “Saturday Night Live,” he joined Letterman on a brand new morning talk show. Got a call to work (“10 a.m., live!”) wasn’t something he was particularly interested in. “I turned it down,” Shaffer said. “I couldn’t get up that early. Luckily for me, when that show didn’t happen, they gave it another shot, a late show slot at 12:30. This time I had enough sense to say yes. And here we are, 33 years later, between the two networks.

From 1982 to 1993, Shaffer led the in-house band for “Late Night with David Letterman” before the talk show host moved to CBS and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” A naming rights dispute with NBC forced Schaeffer to change his band’s title to the CBS Orchestra, continuing with Letterman until the late-night host retired in 2015.

On Friday night, Fallon talked about appearing as a comedian and as a guest on Letterman, but admitted to Shaffer that he was most nervous about meeting the bandleader.

“I was such a fan,” Fallon said. “Not only did you change the game and raise the bar for what a band could do on a show. Obviously there was Dr. Severinson (Johnny Carson’s bandleader on ‘The Tonight Show’). But you took it to the next level.” . And I think you changed the face of comedy, too, if I may say… When Dave tells a joke and the audience doesn’t really laugh, you go, ‘Haha.’ And, that’s when you found it funny. The comedians at home were dumb ‘He’s right.’ The audience just doesn’t get it yet.

Fallon also credits Shaffer with introducing the wrong laugh to many comedians. “Tina Fey laughs like you. They’re all doing you.”

Schaefer responded to Fallon’s praise by saying, “I didn’t realize I had that much responsibility…I’m humbled. And we all look up to Johnny Carson as our role model and to talk to. On the panel was Dr. Severinson and Ed (McMahon, Carson’s sidekick). I thought I was a combination of Dr. and Ed.

Along with “Tonight Show” guests Kit Harington, Tyler James Mitchell and Fallon playing the intro and outro music for the regular “Thank You Note” segment, Shaffer and The World’s Most Dangerous Band covered Cool & the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging.” Knocked out the towering version of and Jackson’s “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground).”

Fallon also followed up with a conversation with Schaeffer about his choice for a favorite this Grammy weekend (“Beyoncé made one of the best records of all time,” said the keyboardist, perhaps in 2009 Bey mocking Kanye West’s famous VMAs speech) before claiming Harry Styles’ “Like It Was” as the talk show’s Grammy pick for song of the year.

“It’s got everything I love — influences from all my favorite artists,” Fallon said before launching into his version of “As It Was,” backed by Schaefer & Co., with host David listening to the sounds of Bowie, Bob Dylan, Adam Sandler, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen to close the show.

The best tribute to Shaffer on Friday came during the “Thank You Note” segment when Fallon thanked the bandleader with a nod to his time on Letterman. “When people talk about legends of late night TV, you’re number one on everyone’s top 10 list.”

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