When he returns to school in the fall, WSU student Jake Sirianni will have the best answer to “What did you do this summer?” The junior has landed a coveted summer internship at “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
The internship comes thanks in part to a video Sirianni created in which he parodied Blackalicious’ “Alphabet Aerobics,” rewriting the song to include lyrics about why he would make a great intern and referencing bits from the show and writers he admires.
“Here’s my declaration: dedicated, diligent and driven./Looking for an intern? Well I recommend you listen/Cause editing’s my gift, entertainment is my craft,” Sirianni raps.
The project originally began as a way to honor the “Tonight Show” writers, but after applying for an internship through NBCUniversal, Sirianni realized the video could serve a dual purpose.
“I figured I could tie in the internship and make it more of a visual resume,” he said.
Sirianni spent a week-and-a-half writing the song and another week-and-a-half editing out actor Daniel Radcliffe, who rapped “Alphabet Aerobics” in the original video.
Sirianni recorded the audio, then he and friend Matt Haddow filmed the rap in about three hours. Sirianni edited the video over spring break and uploaded and tweeted about the video March 20.
The “Tonight Show” Twitter account responded March 22, telling Sirianni to watch that night’s show. During the show, Fallon showed clips from Sirianni’s video before revealing that Sirianni had received the internship.
“Jake, if you’re watching, and you better be watching, the answer is yes,” Fallon said during the show. “Pack your bags, buddy. I’ll see you this summer. I can’t wait to meet you, man. Get ready to work.”
Sirianni, who watched the show in Global Scholars Hall, where he is a resident adviser, called the moment Fallon said his name surreal.
“I’ve played that over and over, him saying my name,” he said. “It was a lot of shock and ‘Wait, what’s happening?’ ”
Friends and fellow students were just as excited, congratulating Sirianni on campus. He even got a round of applause after walking into class.
“I’m usually behind the camera,” said Sirianni, who’s president and director of Cable 8 Productions, WSU’s TV station. “This is definitely a new experience.”
Sirianni said he has been surrounded by comedy his entire life and was raised in a household with a good sense of humor.
He started watching “Saturday Night Live” in fourth grade, though the show didn’t always make sense.
“I remember being confused. ‘Why was the news on and why is there a laugh track behind it?’ ” he said. “Turns out it was Seth Meyers (on Weekend Update).”
He kept watching, and in high school saw shows from comedians like “SNL” alum Jay Pharoah and Martin Short. He also got to introduce current cast member Sasheer Zamata before a show at Western Washington University, impersonating “SNL” announcer Don Pardo while doing so.
Two summers ago, Sirianni saw “The Tonight Show” live, where he got to high-five Fallon, and saw his first show at the famed improv theater Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. His role with Cable 8 doesn’t allow for much content creation, but Sirianni enjoys making sketch videos with friends.
A fan of late-night talk shows, Sirianni became interested in Fallon during his transition between “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “The Tonight Show.”
Sirianni applied for an internship with “The Tonight Show” because, he said, it has the richest history of any late-night talk show.
“From Steve Allen to (Johnny) Carson to Fallon, they have such a good interpretation of their culture,” Sirianni said. “What I like about Fallon is the positivity. I would describe myself as a positive person and would like to be in that environment.”
Sirianni, who is studying communication with an emphasis in journalism and media production at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, has previously interned with post-production companies Tiny Hero and Alternative Plan, which involved working with comedian Howie Mandel.
He isn’t quite sure what his duties as a “Tonight Show” intern will include, but he’s ready and willing to make coffee runs, a task others might scoff at.
“If executives and talent don’t have to do those tasks, you’re adding value in that way,” Sirianni said. “When you move up the ladder, you’ll see people in those positions and it will be a nice throwback.”
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