On Tuesday evening, late night comedian Jimmy Fallon's Puerto Rico Tonight Show episode hit the airwaves — and it carried an important message for viewers. Fallon taped Tuesday's entire broadcast on the island, hoping the show would encourage tourism to Puerto Rico and help its economy recover following Hurricane Maria, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Fallon taped Tuesday's Puerto Rico episode along with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Notably, Miranda is on the island overseeing the play's three-week run in Puerto Rico, the proceeds of which will go to a fund created to support arts and education in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Playbill reported. The late night host said that the decision to film a Tonight Show episode on the island was inspired by Miranda's efforts to aid in Puerto Rico's recovery, the AP noted.
In an interview with the AP, Fallon described his Puerto Rico episode as a tribute to the island. He asserted that, "It’s a real celebration of Puerto Rico ... It’s not a pity party, it’s a party party.” Fallon echoed similar sentiments to NBC News, saying:
I think this [the episode] shows Puerto Rico that we love them and we didn't forget and we love them and we want to support them and the rebuilding. I mean it's already back. It's open for business.
During the episode, Fallon engaged in a host of activities on the island. For example, he met with chef José Andres, who spearheaded a large initiative to feed Puerto Rico's residents following Hurricane Maria. Moreover, Fallon, musical artist Bad Bunny, and the Tonight Show's band, The Roots, filmed a music video in San Juan, along with a host of Puerto Rican performers. Fallon also took a ride on one of the longest zip lines in the world in the Puerto Rican jungle, alongside musician Black Thought.
In another special moment, Fallon joined Miranda on the set of Hamilton. The late night host helped assist Miranda in performing "The Story of Tonight,” a song from Miranda's award-winning musical.
During the episode, Fallon stressed that he was moved by the lively and vibrant spirit of the island. "I can feel the energy and the spirit of this place, the history, the food, the music, the people. Puerto Rico is thriving and it's open for business," he said. The comedian also encouraged viewers to consider taking a vacation to Puerto Rico as a means of supporting the territory's economy. "You can have fun and that would mean just as much as giving. It’s a win-win," Fallon remarked. As the AP reported, government estimates show that Puerto Rico still faces over $130 billion in restoration costs after the hurricane.
Fallon closed out his Puerto Rico episode by featuring Puerto Rican artists José Feliciano and Ozuna performing the popular song, "En Mi Viejo San Juan" ("In My Old San Juan"). In reflecting on the show, Fallon appeared very moved by the experience. "It’s one of the best shows, if not the best show, we’ve ever done. It’s amazing," he told the AP. Hopefully Fallon's efforts will inspire others to support Puerto Rico through tourism and beyond.