The saga of Cory, Topanga and Mr. Feeny is a classic in the Nineties TV time capsule, but it’s always been missing an element of darkness – of mystery. Enter Samuel L. Jackson, a modern master of dramatic monologue: On Tuesday night’s episode of The Tonight Show, the actor delivered a mind-blowing Boy Meets World slam poem, outlining the series’ basic narrative with skillful rhythmic gymnastics.
His body obscured in darkness, Jackson takes a deep puff on an e-cigarette, furls his brow and begins the tale over a smooth-jazz backing track from the Roots. He starts at the beginning, in the most literal sense: “Boy. Meets. World. Boy – greets world. ‘Hello, world! I’m Cory Matthews: short and average, head full of curls.'”
Jackson establishes the arc of best friends Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter – “two boys who lack both brains and brawn.” He then segues to the romance between Cory and Topanga – “a story old as time.” “Topanga, Topanga, Topanga, beats the heart of Cory,” Jackson says while pounding his chest, chronicling their journey “from sandbox to Pennbrook College.” (He also defines Topanga as “daughter of hippies, name of a gypsy”).
And what would this slam poem be without some inspirational words from everyone’s favorite high school curmudgeon? “The knowledge they gained came not from a witch or a genie,” Jackson flows, “but from a teacher, a neighbor, a mentor, a savior – a man named Mr. Feeny.”
Jackson’s interpretation is hilarious and somehow a bit poignant: “Boy Meets World. Boy meets girl,” he says toward the end. “Boy meets wife. Boy meets life.”