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Jimmy Fallon gets to play Hamilton in Puerto Rico, but at least it's for a good cause

Simon Longnight at Lafayette, Jimmy Fallon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rubén J. Carbajal as John Laurens, Brandon Armstrong as Hercules Mulligan
Screenshot: The Tonight Show

The pally bond between amiably irritating late-night goofball Jimmy Fallon and adorably brilliant goofball Lin-Manuel Miranda might be a little annoying, but, if we’re being honest, it’s because Fallon gets to do all manner of cool stuff with the Hamilton creator that we want to be doing. Lip-syncing to a polka-fied Hamilton remix alongside Miranda and Weird Al? Check. Hanging out with Miranda on the streets of San Juan, where the multiple Tony Award winner is currently reprising his role as Alexander Hamilton for a three-week run in aid of the Puerto Rican arts community? Check. Getting to sing along with the Puerto Rico cast of Hamilton to “The Story Of Tonight”—while dressed as Alexander-fucking-Hamilton—on the very stage at the Bellas Artes theater for Tuesday’s Tonight Show in Puerto Rico episode? Check-and-grumbling-resentment-rage-envy-check. (We do get to see a few, Fallon-less minutes of the actual cast performing the song first, which is undeniably exhilarating.)

But, fine, whatever. Jimmy Fallon did take his show to Puerto Rico to showcase Miranda’s efforts to raise money and awareness for the American citizens there still fighting to recover after the enduring devastation of Hurricane Maria. So that’s nice of him, the dopey little bastard. And, sure, he did do a passable version of “You’ll Be Back” on Miranda’s Hamilton Mixtape (even if he couldn’t help but waste everyone’s time faffing around with some self-indulgently lame shtick beforehand). Anyway, Fallon was gracious enough to swap seats with Miranda for their Tuesday interview on the Bellas Artes Hamilton set, considering that Fallon’s Tonight Show desk was swapped out in the empty theater for the actual Hamilton desk from the musical.

And he did let Miranda talk feelingly about how his father Luis’ tireless efforts helped facilitate the monumental achievement of mounting the mammoth show’s charitable production on the still-recovering island, and how Miranda has found himself swept away by unexpected emotions stemming from his return to Puerto Rico. He and Fallon both got affectingly emotional as Miranda recounted how the lyrics to “Hurricane” reverberated anew with memories of the chilling days after Maria, when Puerto Rico’s storm-shattered infrastructure left families on the mainland cut off from news about their relatives and friends. Noting how artists are traditionally an afterthought in any relief effort, Miranda explained his choice to send the proceeds of the Puerto Rico Hamilton to the island’s Flamboyan Arts Fund by telling Fallon, “They’re the ones who are going to tell the story.” As evidence, Fallon closed his show by handing things over to José Feliciano and Ozuna for an achingly lovely version of the anthemic Puerto Rican song, “En Mi Viejo San Juan.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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