Critic's Notebook: With Clinton on 'Tonight Show,' Fallon Finally Tweaks Trump

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon - Hillary Clinton - H - 2016
Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

The Democratic nominee gamely played ball with Fallon in yet another trivially silly 'Tonight Show,' while Trump bragged and blustered his way through an interview with Bill O'Reilly.

Hillary Clinton, or her body double, appeared Monday night on The Tonight Show to prove that at least one of them was still alive. The show was actually taped on Friday, despite Fallon announcing "It is Monday" early in the program. (Expect the internet to buzz with conspiracy theories alleging that Hillary was in on the dastardly lie.)

In his monologue, Fallon informed the audience, "Hillary Clinton is here, and today is my birthday," as if the events were of equal importance. He then proceeded to deliver more jokes about Donald Trump than the evening's guest, having apparently been afraid to deliver them when the Republican nominee was actually on the show last week.

Next came one of the execrable "Ew!" sketches — this one featuring Miley Cyrus — in which Fallon plays a whiny teenage girl. If Hillary was watching from the green room, it's amazing she didn't immediately bolt for the exit.

As was widely publicized after the show was taped, Fallon tried to be cute by donning a surgical mask, and then, when a laughing Hillary slapped him high-five, dousing his palm with hand sanitizer. The bit would have been funnier if Fallon hadn't previously rubbed his hands through Trump's hair, which most health experts would advise not chancing unless wearing a hazmat suit.

Fallon naturally began asking Hillary about her recent pneumonia and several days recuperating. She told him she was glad for the rest because "I got a chance to reflect on this crazy campaign." But just as you expected her to announce that she had decided to withdraw, Hillary instead said that from now on she would run a more positive campaign. She then went on to bash Trump for the next several minutes.

A particularly lame bit involved Fallon opening a bag that he said contained items Trump had left in his dressing room, including a heart-shaped frame containing a picture of Vladimir Putin and a CD of Pink Floyd's The Wall (get it?). Proving that she's willing to go along with anything, Hillary gamely reached into the bag and pulled out several softballs, the props jokingly referencing Fallon's softball questions to Trump.

Hillary added that she had played softball when she was young.

"Were you good?" asked Fallon. "By my standards," she replied, which essentially summed up the way many people feel about her campaign.  

When Fallon asked her about the difficulties of campaigning when she's expected to maintain a sunny demeanor while also displaying her "badass" side, Hillary played what Trump has called "the woman card."

"It's especially tricky for women. It just is," she said. "You don't talk about ISIS with a big grin on your face."

Finally, Fallon, channeling Art Linkletter, read a series of letters from young children that had them both giggling at the cute silliness of it all. Sure, they can have a nice laugh while the rest of the country is having a collective panic attack.

Earlier in the evening, Trump appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, where he continued his charm offensive — emphasis on the latter word — on the American public. He once again described his temperament as his "strongest thing," immediately adding, "I won't even say it myself." That he could so blatantly contradict himself within a single sentence made even O'Reilly laugh.

At one point, Trump used the words "win" and "winning" so often, without taking a single  breath, that it made you think his running mate should have been Charlie Sheen.

When O'Reilly asked him how he would deal with Hillary in the debates, Trump answered, "If she treats me with respect, I will treat her with respect." It was a reasonable enough statement, but the way he said it, it sounded like a line from The Godfather.

Asked how he would deal with Hillary baiting him, Trump responded, bizarrely, "I went to the best school." Whether he meant Fordham or Wharton was unclear, although both universities would probably happily decline the honor.

Ominously talking about the lawsuit he plans to file against The New York Times, Trump said he would get around to it after "this little process" was over. It was hard to tell whether he meant the election or the interview.

Finally, responding to a question about his lack of appeal to female voters, Trump declared, "There is nobody that respects women more than Donald Trump" — yet another example of his bizarre penchant for referring to himself in the third person. It may be against the rules of the psychiatric profession, but can't we get a qualified professional to weigh in on this?