State College

State High, Penn State grad to make his ‘Tonight Show’ debut

Comedian Joe Machi, a State College native and Penn State graduate, will perform Thursday on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” on NBC.
Comedian Joe Machi, a State College native and Penn State graduate, will perform Thursday on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” on NBC. Photo provided, file

Although he’s no stranger to being on television, State College native Joe Machi will hit a new entertainment milestone Thursday evening when he’s set to perform standup comedy on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

The 1997 State College Area High School grad made it as far as the final four on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 2014, had a half-hour special for Comedy Central in 2016, and appeared on “Conan” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Moving up from Fallon’s old 12:37 a.m. spot to the prime-time spot at 11:35 p.m. is a pretty big deal.

“It doesn’t mean what it used to mean just because of the fragmentation of media,” he said, “but it’s still going to get a couple million eyeballs on it and that’s always good.”

Since leaving “Last Comic Standing,” Machi decided to take his show on the road and pursue comedy full time.

The 2002 Penn State graduate now lives Weehawken, N.J., where he drives into New York City to perform from Monday to Wednesday, and then travels from Thursday through Sunday. After his gig on the “Tonight Show,” Machi will be getting ready to travel to Vancouver, Canada, to perform over the weekend.

He even took his show back to his hometown over the summer when he performed at The State Theatre over Arts Fest weekend.

Although his job requires a lot of travel, Machi said he much prefers it to his previous office job.

“Sometimes the people walking to the bus stop in the morning for work in the city, they’ll wake me up when I hear the commotion, and I’ll be like, ‘oh good, I don’t have to do that anymore,’ and I go right back to bed.”

It was “Tonight Show” representatives who Machi said first reached out to him about being on the show. They asked him what kind of a set he had, so Machi performed it for them. They liked the set, so then Machi had to submit it in writing for review by the show’s legal team before getting the OK.

Machi first met Fallon when the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member stopped into Machi’s green room to talk ahead of Machi’s “Late Night” appearance.

“He’s very friendly — the same as you see on camera, you see off,” Machi said. “He’s quite friendly and really tries to set you up, where he tells the crowd that everyone he knows is watching, so be a good audience for this comedian. And a lot of people don’t do that.”

Machi’s episode of “the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” premieres at 11:34 p.m. Thursday on NBC.

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