Flashback: Jimmy Fallon’s TV debut on Barry Sobel’s 3-minute talk show in 1996 on Comedy Central

All of the talk overnight of the shortest ever talk-show got people reminding me that someone already has been there and done that, and his name is Barry Sobel.

Fallon1996If you need proof, just ask Jimmy Fallon.

Don't let the long hair fool you. This fresh-faced kid was turning 22 in 1996 when he appeared on the very first episode of Barry Sobel's three-minute talk show on Comedy Central. 

Did we say three minutes? Yes. Three minutes. Take that, Conan's "Show Zero."

You can watch the entire debut episode here. Kevin Meaney plays the fictitious head of the network who informs Sobel in his monologue that he'll only be getting three minutes. Fred Willard plays Sobel's sidekick, and Rita Wilson gets honors as his first guest.


In a twist in which everything old is new again, Sobel is developing a new Internet iteration of his three-minute show, with help from Rita Wilson's husband, Tom Hanks! Of course, the relationship between Sobel and Hanks goes all the way back to the 1980s movie about comedians that comedians love to trash talk about, Punchline. Hanks had Sobel write for him and tutor him in the "comedy stylings" of stand-up, as it were.

Here's a photo Sobel shared on Facebook from one of the tapings this fall, with musical guest Ben Lee.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →

3 thoughts on “Flashback: Jimmy Fallon’s TV debut on Barry Sobel’s 3-minute talk show in 1996 on Comedy Central

Comments are closed.