'When we meet again, we're going on a beer run' — Jimmy Fallon's tribute to Kobe Bryant
It's three years since Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash. Jimmy Fallon's tribute on his show was a storytelling masterpiece.
There were many great speeches in the aftermath of the Kobe Bryant’s tragic death. I thought Vanessa Bryant’s eulogy at his memorial event was one of the speeches of the year.
But Jimmy Fallon’s knack for weaving a personal story into the larger tribute is first class. He did one for Prince, that is probably my favourite.
I'm at dinner and I'm like, 'I gotta go. Prince just challenged me to a game of ping pong.' So I show up and I go to this ping pong place and I go down the stairs and I go, 'uh hey,' I don't even know how to ask ... and she goes, 'You're here to see Prince? Right this way, he's behind that curtain.' So I open the curtain and Prince is standing there with a double breasted crushed blue velvet suit holding a ping pong paddle and he goes, 'You ready to do this?'
Ping pong with Prince has to be as good a celebrity yarn as a tonight show host is going to deliver. His ‘beer run with Kobe Bryant’ story is less incredible, but more heartfelt and more heart-breaking.
It’s worth a listen and a read. It demonstrates the rule that every tribute needs a story. Fallon is going with a ‘how we met’ story here, and it’s ridiculous to think that young and barely known Kobe and young and barely known Fallon are chatting together at the one party, and that they then go on a beer run, and viewers are left imagining the strange, celebrity charged lives that go on in that part of the world, and what this decades long friendship might have been like.
Fallon also does a great job of pivoting from the humour of the beer run anecdote to the glory of the career, to his qualities as a person and friend. Here is the transcript:
For Kobe Bryant: 'Love your teammates, love your family, and outwork everyone else in the gym', by Jimmy Fallon - 2020
27 January 2020, Los Angeles, California, USA
The world was heartbroken yesterday by a helicopter accident in Los Angeles that claimed the lives of nine people, including that of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Kobe was such a life force, so strong and creative and inspired, that in my head I thought that he was going to live forever. I met Kobe when he was 17 and I was 21. He was a rookie on the Lakers, and I was just starting out in the comedy scene in LA. We were at a party, and we didn't know anyone at the party, so we just started talking and I said like, "Hey, what do you do?" He goes, "I play basketball." I go, "Where?" And he goes, "For the Lakers." I go, "Wow." He goes, "What do you do?" I go, "I'm a stand up comic." We just got along and we hit it off, started talking.
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