Molly Shannon on The Tonight Show

Molly Shannon is notorious for her comedic chops, but last night on The Tonight Show, she proved she has dramatic mettle to match.


Shannon, who first came to prominence on Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld, has long been thought of as a comedic actress. Before 2007, nearly all of her performances had been comedic, including her appearances on Will & Grace and Sex and the City. However, after starring alongside Laura Dern in Mike White's comedy-drama Year of the Dog, she began to pivot into more serious roles. These included Eileen in Mike White's show Enlightened (again starring Laura Dern), Diane in HBO's Divorce, and Cynthia Grimes in Netflix's Private Life.

Last night, all those years of training paid off: Shannon casually destroyed Jimmy Fallon in a Cry-Off. The rules are simple — weep before your opponent — but Fallon failed flaccidly, bursting into laughter repeatedly while Shannon steadily dissolved into tears. In front of a nationwide viewership of thousands and a live audience that kept laughing at Fallon, she nonetheless achieved a state of semi-sincere sadness. Afterwards, Shannon vulnerably professed how much she enjoyed being on the show, which Fallon responded to by supposedly becoming teary-eyed.

Shannon can be seen in all her zestful thespian glory on the new critically-acclaimed Mike White HBO series The White Lotus, which premiered in July 2021.

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