PROOF Tonight Show’s viral ‘Pumpcast News’ segment was staged

Pumpcast News Fraud

In the five days since the segment premiered on The Tonight Show, a “Pumpcast News” clip of a married couple enticed into randomly rocking out at a gas station has earned more than eight million hits on YouTube

The talent and flair for entertaining that was demonstrated by the couple — Will and Monifa Sims — almost seemed too good to be true. But, both the Sims and producers of The Tonight Show claimed it was truly a serendipitous finding. The Sims just so happened to be fueling up at the gas station when a newscaster came on the TV, spoke directly to them and convinced them sing some karaoke in exchange for gas money. Then, both Will and Monifa Sims just so happened to be world-class performers.

They were so good, in factthat Jay Leno and The Tonight Show invited them to perform with the band on set.

Pumpcast News couple on Jay Leno

You know, just an everyday occurrence.

“I wouldn’t have looked like that,” Monifa claimed when Jay Leno asked her if they were planted. “That wasn’t my best look after working out.”

But, as if often the case with something that seems too good to be true, the situation was not what it appeared to be. As Chicago Sun-Times revealed, Will is not just a bartender and Monifa isn’t just a fitness instructor.

“They’re also professional thespians — founding members of Chicago’s Congo Square Theatre company. In fact, Monifa won a national dramatic acting contest in 2005, shortly before she and Will moved west.”

The Tonight Show was also in on the plot. Will explained he and his wife were instructed to omit their real occupations.

“[The producers] didn’t want [people] to think we were actors and it was a ‘plant,’” Will told Chicago Sun-Times. “They were like, ‘You’re a bartender and she’s a fitness [trainer].’”

Still, even after owning up to his real resume, Will claimed the couple was still shocked to appear on national television.

“You never, in a million years, think you’re going to pump gas and be on the Internet, let alone The Tonight Show.”

That little details about their real jobs certainly seem worth mentioning, but are forgivable. The real kicker is this wasn’t Monifa’s first time pulling up to the magic pump. As The Smoking Gun discovered, she participated in another “Pumpcast News” segment in March 2011.

Pumpcast News Fraud

“In fact, Monifa conversed with Stack both times while parked at pump number 16, the area used for the ‘Pumpcast News’ bits,” reported The Smoking Gun.

After The Smoking Gun published the exposé and a video of her first performance, Monifa confessed.

“When it happened again, I said, ‘I cannot believe it,'” Monifa said. “This really is a one-in-a-million chance.”

Still, neither she nor her husband have revealed the depth of The Tonight Show producers’ knowledge.

If, like me, you’re feeling duped, don’t blame Will and Monifa. If you were an aspiring performer, wouldn’t you say “YES!” to any scheme The Tonight Show cooked up? Monifa herself said she hopes and prays the exposure will lead to a big break in Hollywood.

Whether that means they went out of their way to “cast” her and her husband again isn’t clear. To be sure, The Tonight Show producers knew that Monifa had participated before.

Do you think it was really an elaborate scheme or just a double dose of good luck?

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  • Caz Kiwi

    Haven’t you watched the video? The host clearly says at around the 1 minute mark…. “Here’s Will, with Living On A Prayer!”… yet “Will” had never said his name! 😀 Still fun tho…

  • So what? It was still funny as heck.

  • Could care less! It appears that we’re living in an age where people can’t just enjoy good news or a funny Internet clip at face value. Instead, we prefer to dig up things like Charles Ramsey’s arrest record or the Sims’ real occupation. It’s like we don’t want to know that real heroes do still exist or that a couple can just have random fun at a gas pump and make us all smile in the process. We prefer to think everything’s a scam and are dead-set on proving it. SMH

  • Lara

    What a coincidence, she used the same gas station more than once! I NEVER do that.



  • this couple was way too professional and polished to come off as total ” unknowns” without any idea how to perform on stage and tv…. they had the moves, gestures, and finesses…. regular folks would have been very nervous, clumsy and klutzy..Jay doesn’ t care…he’s on the outs… so he can do what he wants.

  • curious as to why people who go to this gas station don’t get the clue its on TV,its on all the time and they live in Hollywood!!… just like that photo booth bit… don’t these folks get the hint, its being taped for tv??

  • Alison T

    As a resident of LA… and having lived in the area where this happened… this is pretty typical. There are thousands of talented professional actors and dancers out and about doing their errands, at grocery stores, gyms, gas stations…24/7. There is always something impromptu ‘being produced’ in this part of LA, where all the studios are located. The city of LA is one just gigantic reality show stage… so yes, they might’ve had an idea this could happen, and when actors know there is a live camera somewhere, it’s like a moth to a flame!! It’s a great example of Carpe diem, nonetheless!