The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon released yet another Brian Williams rap composite Monday night, but few fans of the NBC Nightly News anchor may be aware that he has serious musical interests and a comical side as well. The most recent rap video is a news-clip-driven remake of the Sir Mix-a-Lot classic Baby Got Back. The rap videos are created from clips from nightly news broadcasts, pieced together to make rap lyrics.
Williams has a comedic side as well, and viewers who know this may pick up on it periodically in his anchorman role, even though he is always impeccably groomed and proper. In addition to The Tonight Show, he has appeared on The Daily Show, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Letterman and has 25 appearances on Late Night when Conan had the chair. Some of the funniest people in the comic world give him the respect due a real talent. Actress and comedienne Tina Fey says he has the kind of natural comedic timing that cannot be learned. And Seth Meyers, Saturday Night Live head writer, says Williams is very aware of “his comic instrument.”
The anchor man’s sense of humor shows in his music interview series, known as BriTunes, available on the MSNBC website. The indie rock fan claims he did not come up with the name, but he did come up with the idea. On the BriTunes site Williams says that although they interview some established musicians it is intended to be a place where people can sample some new talent. Pitchfork calls it an “increasingly common confluence of indie rock and network news.” BriTunes includes an occasional music-related blog post by Williams, along with his current favorites playlist, and any of his latest musical interests.
The most recent video includes other news superstars as backup vocalists, including Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie and Tom Brokaw. The rap composites show both Williams’ comedic side and his interest in music, with a variety of tunes that the videos are based on. Baby Got Back is the eighth such video, and was released on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in Orlando last night.
Brian Williams took over the position of anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News in 2004, and NBC claims that he is seen by more U.S. television viewers than any other individual. He has 12 Emmy Awards, 11 Edward R. Murrow Awards, the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and other honors. The rap tunes that he has become famous for come from clips of these serious news broadcasts, edited together into videos that have become very popular.
He has been publicly honing his skills as a funny man since his first appearance on Conan’s Late Night during the Clinton administration. He says he never planned to be anything but a newsman but ended up on the show through a company policy that had any available in-house talent filling in for unreliable guests who might cancel at the last minute. He turned out to be a great stand-in. Many people recognize Williams through his real role as a news anchor man and rap video star, unaware of his serious music interests and talents as a comic.
By Beth A. Balen