Wednesday night on NBC’s The Tonight Show, host Jimmy Fallon had Michelle Obama on as his guest for one of her final television appearances as First Lady. Fallon is known for being very friendly towards his guests but his interview with Mrs. Obama was completely out of the ordinary in gushiness.
The show began with a really weird segment in which a few “regular Americans” are asked to go backstage and stare at a painting of Michelle Obama and tell her “what she meant” to them. Michelle then showed up to surprise each person while they were giving their emotional tributes, complete with shrieking, sobbing and hugs. Somehow, no one on The Tonight Show thought having people talking to a painting and telling it how much they mean to them is in any way creepy or unusual.
When it came time to do the interview, Fallon began by being as over-the-top gushy as possible, by introducing Michelle as “way smarter, cooler and more accomplished” than the rest of America. Fallon and Obama reminisced over the sketches they had done over the past several years and Fallon begged her to come back on the show after she left the Oval Office.
The late-night host then asked what made her “get choked up” during “her event last Friday” (presumably the White House celebrity-filled farewell party.) Michelle replied, “kids” before going on to make an insinuated reference to Trump:
FALLON: I never see you -- we never see you get that emotional. What is it that choked you up? What made you start --
OBAMA: Talking about kids. Talking about the future. I mean, kids are my heart.
OBAMA: You know? When I think about the fact that some of them are afraid about what is to come.
OBAMA: You know, I really -- what I said, I don't want them to be afraid. I want them to embrace the future and know that the world is getting better. We have bumps in the road, we have ups and downs. But I want our kids to like move forward. I don't care where they come from, with strength and with hope. And that -- [ cheers and applause ]
FALLON: I love you for saying that
Fallon went on to talk about her husband’s farewell speech, saying he “lost it.”
FALLON: I lost it at home. I was crying on my wife's shoulder.
He continued the gushing:
FALLON: [Barack’s] just the best man in the whole wide world. I mean, no way could there be a cooler human being than that guy. And every time Malia lost it -- I lost it.
He went on to praise the Obama daughters as “so pretty” and “so nice” before calling the Michelle and Barack “good parents.”
Later in his “Thank you notes” sketch, Fallon compared the First Lady to another liberal icon; Beyonce.
FALLON: Thank you, Mrs. Obama, for being a strong, smart, independent woman, an activist, a style icon, and a great dancer. Showing us all what it would look like if Beyonce married a much nerdier Jay Z
Fallon ended the interview by asking Michelle if she was going to keep up her initiatives she started while in the White House. This gave her the opportunity to tout her notoriously problematic healthy school lunches program, even insinuating that critics of the program lacked common sense.
OBAMA: You know, the fact that we have really made big strides to change the health of our kids, especially through the school lunch program which I hope does not get touched, because that makes sense. We have to keep doing things that make sense for our future. [ Cheers and applause ] It’s like -- you know, it's nuts.
FALLON: Yeah [nods in agreement]
OBAMA: We know our kids need to eat well. They need to eat healthy and we can't sort of start changing that when they go to school.
The segment was more like old friends gossipping than an interview. Fallon never drifted far away from the personal, even asking Michelle, “How’s your mom doing?” before sharing family photos of the Obamas during their time in the White House. The audience appropriately replied with lots of “Aww”s, cheers, laughter and applause.
Sure, softball questions are commonplace on late-night shows but no other political figure would receive this kind of ego stroking and deity-like praise like the Obamas do.