Questlove almost got fired one time from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon for a Michelle Bachmann-themed musical jab.
Regular viewers of Fallon’s show are well aware that Questlove and the band theme the music of each episode around a night’s particular guest, usually referencing in-jokes and pop culture oddities from a celebrity’s personal life or recent headlines.
But there was one time Questlove poked fun at controversial conservative politician Michelle Bachmann and almost got fired for it, or so he recalls in his memoir Mo’ Meta Blues.
He talks a bit about his strategy in picking “walk-over” music for Fallon’s guests, which usually serve to amuse Questlove and his band, and don’t seem to have any other real purpose. Bachmann’s appearance came at the height of Republican primary season, and Questlove picked a rather controversial song to reflect the controversial pol.
“I ended up picking Fishbone’s ‘Lyin’ Ass B*tch,’ a ska number from their 1985 debut. It had a good little melody and lots of energy. It seemed funny to me,” he recalled.
He played it without incident, and went home feeling pretty proud of himself.
“I’m sure almost no one knew what song we were playing. That was part of the fun of it. I felt smug to the point of smugness. We had pulled one over on the Man.”
“Then, the next day, satisfaction and smugness turned to ego. I was sitting around at home thinking that I had done something historical, something political. I had struck a blow for truth. I wanted credit. When you want credit for something and you don’t want to operate via traditional channels, where do you go? In this day and age, you go to Twitter.”
He responded to a query about the song on Twitter, taking credit for the selection, and the story quickly went viral on conservative blogs. Shortly after, he was told that the choice may cost him his job and might even sink the show, since Fallon was getting flash-fried online for allowing it to happen.
Questlove recalls that some friends at Fox News had been checking the lyrics to his music with The Roots, and found nothing misogynistic or hateful. After an apology from Fallon on Questlove’s behalf, the controversy cooled and Questlove kept his job.
You can check out a video of Michelle Bachmann’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s show below, during which Questlove plays the song that almost got him fired:
[Image via: Joe Mabel]