It was a case of the old and new media colliding as broadcast television juggernaut The Tonight Show went live on Twitch, the streaming platform popular with gamers, for the first time ever. Following the lead of others like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jimmy Fallon along with three members of his house band The Roots played the popular game Among Us with two cast members of Stranger Things and three incredibly popular streamers. The entire one-hour stream was a fundraiser for Feeding America and raised $25,000, the last $8,000 or so was personally donated by Fallon.
For the uninitiated, playing Among Us with Corpse, Valkyrae, and Sykkuno is almost the equivalent of Ed Sullivan booking The Beatles in the sense of a broadcasting mainstay capturing the next big thing. These three streamers are among the most popular players of Among Us on Twitch (and multiple compilation/fan videos also shared on YouTube), fans recently got a massive billboard promoting Corpse Husband's music in Times Square. It's not exactly Beatlemania, but it's not bad for the middle of a pandemic.
Said pandemic has led to the huge popularity of Among Us, a video game similar to "Mafia" or "Werewolf" style party games, except in outer space in a sci-fi setting. The game's paranoia, close quarters, and fun, quick playstyle have made it a huge hit in the last year, during which longtime streamers like Jacksepticeye, PewDiePie, and Mr. Beast have all played with a gang of regulars that include Valkyrae, Corpse, and Sykkuno. (If these names are unfamiliar to you, ask someone under 16. Yes, it sounds like another language but I promise these people are real)
Fallon and bandmembers Questlove, Tariq Trotter, and Kirk Douglas, all newcomers to the game, played alongside Among Us community director Victoria Tran and stars of Stranger Things Gaten Matarazzo and Noah Schnapp. Then ten of them played several rounds of the game, including a fateful round during which Jimmy was an imposter.
"Jimmy does crazy stuff just like I usually do to try and spice things up. I think that's cool," said Sykkuno in a post-stream chat with his own fans reflecting on the experience. He admitted to being nervous about the stream. He also admitted to not knowing what channel The Tonight Show is on or whether he would have to pay money to watch NBC. "I got a water bill to pay."
Sykkuno specifically referred to Jimmy's antics during the stream going around acting "super suss" (Among Us slang for "suspicious" or acting like a murderous imposter would.) The strategy mostly did not work for the Tonight Show host, who was thrown out of the spaceship's airlock in one game after a community vote decided he was the imposter and then actually being so brazen as to murder Sykkuno right in front of Corpse Husband, who immediately reported him. "Not going to lie: I thought that was cool… I think he was just trying to make it fun and he did a great job of it," reflected Sykkuno.
Jimmy Fallon, it turns out, while not an experienced Among Us player, is a fan of his streamer guests, especially the anonymous Corpse Husband who never shows his face and has this iconic growly voice. Fallon not only loves it, but he also played with Corpse and Sykkuno's reputations and personas a little bit during the stream to try to gain a competitive advantage. You could also tell that Gaten and Noah were fans and were excited to be playing with some of the best-recognized streamers.
The final game, which was played on the new Among Us airship level, featured a team-up between community director Victoria Tran and Valkyrae, who between the two of them successfully murdered everyone. It was absolute chaos and suspicion and worked the way the best Among Us games do. To their credit, the three members of The Roots were suss on them from the beginning. "Keep your eye on Valkyrae!" Questlove warned several times.
The real winners in all of this was Feeding America, and perhaps the cross-pollination of gamer streaming culture and legacy media institutions. Hopefully, a lot of Tonight Show viewers now know more about Among Us and maybe, just maybe, someone will help Sykkuno figure out how to watch NBC. For the rest of us, you can watch the entire stream on The Tonight Show's YouTube channel here: