‘Today Show’: Why Al Roker Compares Himself to This Sitcom Star

Al Roker has been a Today Show staple for over 25 years. Appearing live each weekday alongside anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, the amiable weatherman often heads feature stories, offers cooking tips, and chats with the audience on the plaza.

While Roker doesn’t consider himself the main attraction of the NBC news program, he sees the benefit to playing a solid supporting role.

Al Roker on the set of the 'Today Show'
Al Roker of the ‘Today Show’ | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Al Roker isn’t ‘top banana’ on the ‘Today Show’

In his book You Look So Much Better in Person, Roker explained how he’s happy to give the main spotlight to his Today Show co-hosts.

“I am not the top banana at the Today Show, and this is a beautiful thing as far as I’m concerned,” Roker wrote. “Co-hosts Savannah and Hoda are the Top Bananas. They are the captains who steer the ship and they are the face of the broadcast.”

Roker likens himself to a lovable supporting character from an iconic NBC comedy. While not the star of the show, the role was still vital to the entire cast.

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“I’ve always fancied myself to be the George Wendt of the Today Show,” he revealed. “To refresh your memory, Wendt played Norm, the bar regular/accountant on the hit television show Cheers that ran for over a decade.”

‘Today Show’ star Al Roker can relate to George Wendt from ‘Cheers’

The Today star explained that while Norm was rarely ever center stage on Cheers, he was always a welcomed presence.

“Norm’s character is the pleasant, warm and fuzzy guy who people are generally happy to see,” Roker shared. “When Wendt’s character entered the bar, everyone would shout out ‘Norm!’ Then he’d take his usual seat at the bar and order a beer that was added to his never-ending tab.”

Roker noted that being a part of an ensemble is a win, even if you aren’t the one headlining the show.

“Wendt delivered some great zingers, and he was nominated for six Emmys for outstanding supporting actor,” Roker wrote. “All of that sounds like big success to me, even though there were bigger bananas on the show. It doesn’t matter that you’re not the star; it matters that you’re part of the constellation.

Al Roker has been on NBC for over four decades

The popular weather forecaster began his career at NBC in 1978. He credits part of his longevity at the network to his second banana status.

“I’ve been at NBC for more than 40 years,” Roker remarked. “The odds of anyone being the top banana for that long are frankly on the low side. Who can sustain that level of intensity for such a long period of time? A good supporting role can keep you going for a very long time.”

Roker pointed out that taking over a lead position is still a possibility for those aspiring to be in the limelight.

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“No one has ever said that you’ll never be the first banana,” the Today Show star wrote. “Someday, if you are called to the very top of the banana hierarchy, you’ll be ready to slide right into that role. But here’s the thing – if that call never comes? That’s okay too.”

Roker concluded with his trademark wisdom and humor. “Take it from a guy who has been second banana for decades,” he advised. “While you’re waiting for what you want, don’t miss out on all the good things you already have. It really has an amazing a-peel!”