For most students, applying for internships means hours of formatting resumes, requesting letters of recommendation, and writing essays about why they deserve the position. For UCF senior Zack Levine, however, it meant combing through hours of Jimmy Fallon videos and learning guitar chords.
On Sept. 15, Levine, 20, posted an application video on YouTube for an internship position at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In the video, Levine travels all over the UCF main campus playing a guitar and expressing his qualifications to Fallon through song.
Levine’s work on the video began as early as February when he wrote the first draft of the lyrics, incorporating plenty of references for Tonight Show fans to enjoy, such as name drops of announcer Steve Higgins an in-house band leader Questlove. The lyrics are sung over the music of Fallon’s 2012 song about the BP oil spill “Balls in Your Mouth,” with Levine only learning to play the guitar over the summer. When the time came to record his vocals, he called in a favor with friends in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, who let him use their recording studio.
As for the video itself, Levine began by editing together clips of Fallon to match the lyrics he had written from him, including self-deprecating comments about Levine’s lack of job prospects as a Radio and Television major. Levine shot his portion of the video over Labor Day weekend with the help of fellow RTV student Josh Staniszewski. Taking advantage of the nearly empty campus, they were able to get plenty of shots of Levine performing at Memory Mall, the reflection pond, the Student Union, and even inside several class buildings.
Before deciding on the RTV major, Levine originally intended to study Film through the BFA program. When he was not accepted, he decided to pursue RTV instead, with the Cinema Studies BA program as a minor. He has held three production-based internships this year: a practicum learning course at UCF and internships at MoneyShow.com and Central Florida Hillel, the latter of which he currently holds.
His main passion is comedy, though, which began as early as high school. At UCF, he has performed at three improv comedy clubs and Knights Got Talent and been active in the registered student organization The Improv Academy. He also worked as a food runner at the Orlando Improv comedy club, which allowed him to meet such comedians as Jay Pharoah of Saturday Night Live and a personal hero of his, stand-up comedian Jo Koy.
Levine hopes that working with The Tonight Show will be the first step in him working professional in comedy. When asked why he chose Fallon’s show over other late night shows, Levine said, “Fallon is simply the king of late night… He will go down as the GOAT in late night comedy when he retires… He is an influence to me as I’m sure he is to thousands of other students looking to get into comedy or late night.”
If Levine is selected, it won’t be his first time seeing Fallon. He got front row seats as an audience member in an April 2017 episode taped in Orlando in which Fallon interviewed Vin Diesel. “Getting to watch the show live was an unforgettable experience,” Levine said. “Fallon is just such a powerful presence. To be in the same room with him was incredible.”
Levine said, “I hope, if chosen, I can represent UCF, and the city of Orlando to the best of my ability.”