Jimmy Fallon Recalls the Time Prince Destroyed Him in Ping-Pong - Rolling Stone
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Jimmy Fallon on Getting Whooped by Prince in Ping-Pong

‘Tonight Show’ host recounts absurd tale in funny, touching tribute

Jimmy Fallon paid tribute to the late, great Prince on The Tonight Show Monday with a too ridiculous, totally true story about getting crushed by the Purple One in ping-pong.

Fallon detailed a back-and-forth with the musician’s management, during which Prince repeatedly changed his mind about wanting to play ping-pong with the host. While Tonight set up a table just in case, Fallon cracked Prince never even looked at it — instead he delivered an outrageous performance and broke Roots guitarist Kirk Franklin’s guitar.

Not long after, however, Prince issued another ping-pong challenge to Fallon, using Questlove as his messenger. Even though Fallon’s wife had just had a baby, the host accepted and ditched dinner one night to meet Prince at Susan Sarandon’s NYC ping-pong club, Spin. There, Fallon recalled, he found Prince standing behind a curtain, wearing a “double-breasted crushed blue velvet suit, holding a ping-pong paddle, and he goes, ‘You ready to do this?'”

Not only did Prince proceed to whoop Fallon and talk smack, but he hit an absurd game winner that bounced perfectly off the edge of the table. Fallon poked around for the ball and retrieved it, but when he stood up, Prince was gone. 

Questlove then added the perfect kicker. “So that’s when I arrived, I came late… [Prince] was in the car already at the red light and I’m like, ‘Wait up, wait up!’ I run up to the car and, Grey Poupon-style, the window comes down. I said, ‘What happened, what happened?’ He says, ‘Ask your boy.'”

In January 2014, we spent an evening at Paisley Park with Prince, conducting interviews for a cover story that was never published. Read excerpts from the interview here.


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