The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is difficult to describe quickly. It’s a talk show by nature, of course, but it has evolved into something else–a loose collection of random games and challenges, a sort of homage to the variety shows of yesteryear. Most famously, it is a place to see game type A famous people (i.e. people that really go for broke when hosting Saturday Night Live) try their hardest to do some weird and specific thing extremely well (see the lip synch battles). Fallon’s Whisper Challenge is one such “weird and specific thing,” and Emma Stone is very much a “game type A celebrity.” In the video above we have what is pretty much a primary example of late night programming in 2016.
Making the rounds to promote the movie musical homage La La Land, and wearing an incredible pantsuit, Stone participates in this guessing game, basically a music-oriented lip-reading test. Fallon gives her soundproof headphones, blaring music for viewers at home to hear, and reads song lyrics off of a cue-card in an ostensibly inaudible whispering tone. Stone then has to guess the song based on whatever lyrics she can make out. Stone stifles laughter while attempting to make out the first of Jimmy’s lyrical cues, in this case the opening lines from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” He sings them in muted way making that face he always makes when he’s trying not to break. Stone yells over the loud music, “Whatever you’re doing looks inappropriate” because Fallon looks perpetually like a child getting away with saying something dirty. Eventually, however, after Fallon starts yell-singing the chorus in a Bruce Springsteen voice, Stone gets it. She thinks that the word “born” is “boy” for a while, but through sheer will and determination, she figures it out.
Afterwards the two alternate, with Jimmy quickly guessing Stone’s version of Britney Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (“What you’re saying is inappropriate,” Fallon returns, something Stone sort of agrees with). Then, Jimmy does Elvis’ “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You,” which Stone guesses pretty quickly once Fallon drops his weird Elvis impersonation (I don’t know how much Stone can possibly hear with those headphones on, if at all, but the faintest hints of Fallon’s Elvis creeping in probably sounded like a car radio underwater). It all ends with Stone doing “I Like Big Butts” by Sir Mix-a-lot.