Jimmy Fallon has described his Tonight Show visit to Puerto Rico, airing this evening, as a “party party” not “pity party” for the island still recovering from an historic 2017 hurricane, ongoing costs of which have been estimated at more than $130B.
“You can feel the energy and the spirit of this place – the history, the food, the music, the people,” Fallon enthuses in the new trailer for tonight’s special.
The NBC late-night show’s road-trip special was conceived to coincide with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s opening of his Broadway sensation Hamilton for a nearly three-week run in the U.S. territory, raising $15M to support the island’s art and culture.
In the trailer, Fallon performs with Miranda, “The Story of Tonight” from Hamilton.
Fallon’s special airs little over a year after President Donald Trump came to tell the locals how much he loves the place he seemed to have only just learned was an
island, tell them their weather is “second to none, but every once in a while you get hit,” and that they had “thrown our budget a little out of whack.” After which he lobbed paper towels at them and handed out flashlights he said they no longer needed.
Fallon’s visit, in marked contrast, includes a lot of emoting over his first zipline experience in Toro Verde; loads of enthusing about the food, the scenery, etc.; and performing with Bad Bunny, house band Roots, marching bands and dancers in San Juan’s historic district. The episode ends as Puerto Rican singer/composer Jose Feliciano sings a duet of “En Mi Viejo San Juan” with fellow Puerto Rican music artist Ozuna.
Fallon’s special airs not quite one year after another late-night show, Sam Bee’s Full Frontal, did a special The Great American Puerto Rico episode to “make America give a damn about Puerto Rico” again, months after Hurricane Maria hit the island, leaving 1,000 dead, about 10K homeless, and 3.4M without power.
Fallon’s Tonight Show visit to help drum up the Puerto Rican tourist trade also airs shortly after reports of Trump reportedly looking at shifting the U.S. territory’s disaster funds to build his beloved Border Wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
But Fallon, whose Tonight show mostly avoids political snark, is endlessly upbeat, per usual, telling tonight’s viewers “Puerto Rico is thriving and it’s open for business.”