Why hello there! Jimmy Fallon and Lionel Richie had a tough time keeping straight faces on the Friday, Sept. 18 episode of The Tonight Show, wherein Fallon paid tribute to Lionel Richie’s memorable music video for his 1984 hit “Hello.”
For the sketch, Fallon, who turned 41 on Saturday, played Richie, 66, with a curly haired wig, oversized dress shirt, and artist’s smock. The original music video featured Richie as a theater teacher falling in love with his blind student. Only later on does he discover (spoiler alert!) that the student is, in fact, in love with him too — as demonstrated by the bust she is sculpting in his likeness.
On Friday, Fallon-as-Lionel and the actual multi-platinum artist switched off singing the haunting melody. At times, Fallon would walk to gaze out the window, while Richie’s head, planted on a table in place of the clay bust, began to sing.
Impressively, neither man broke character — that is, until Fallon came to stand behind Richie’s head and the singer had to close his eyes to keep from cracking up.
Richie famously complained that the actual bust in the original music video looked nothing like him, and the jokes surrounding the video have lingered since then.
“I get to the video shoot and there’s this God-awful looking clay model of my head,” he told Rolling Stone in May 2014. “I said, ‘Bob [Girardi, the video’s director], this doesn’t look like me.’ He said, 'OK, we'll do the scene and we'll talk about this later, Lionel.' We get to scene two and I said, 'Bob, I see the bust here. It doesn't look like me.' He says, 'Scene two, now we're getting closer.' It happens again with scene three and then finally we're getting right to shoot the scene where I discover that she's done it. I say, 'Bob, it doesn't look like me.' And he looks at me and says, 'Lionel, she's blind!' And I said, 'Okay, I get it.'"
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