?uestlove: Michele Bachmann gag nearly got us kicked off Fallon

Photo by Steve Cohen
?uestlove performing at Bobby Z's Benefit 2 Celebrate Life in March
The Roots drummer and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon music guy Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson opens up about some of his darkest days as a performer in his new book, Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. One of which was a little stunt involving Michele Bachmann in 2011 that you might remember.

Basically, ?uestlove and the Roots played Fishbone's "Lyin' Ass Bitch" as the controversial Minnesota congresswoman walked onstage. This quickly went from an in-joke that felt "smug to the point of smugness" to almost getting the boot from NBC.

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The Roots diss Michele Bachmann with 'Lyin' Ass Bitch' as she walks on Jimmy Fallon

In an excerpt posted at Salon, ?uesto talks about the process that goes into each walk-on song that the band prepares and unpacks the entire episode that could've been the end of his career on TV. As the Roots prepare to shift over to The Tonight Show when Jimmy Fallon takes over for Jay Leno, this is a particularly big deal.

On November 21, 2011, Bachmann visited the show right at the height of the Republican primary season. As ?uestlove describes her, "Bachmann had been offending people left and right with her comments about gay rights and Muslims in America, and she also seemed to have a casual relationship with the truth." And thus, a song with lying in its title seemed apt.

The upbeat ska song played, and no one raised a fuss until ?uestlove's "smugness turned to ego." He headed to Twitter to confirm the title of the walk-on music that they played. Then the bottom dropped out. As it turns out, criticism came more heavily from feminists than it did from conservatives for the choice of "Lyin' Ass Bitch." And Thompson quickly realized that this thing had gotten away from him.
That's when things shifted into a whole new dimension of horrible. I had picked the song so that I didn't have to sing it, but the fact it could be seen as misogynistic just escaped me. The word is commonly used in certain music, and means something slightly different: it has as much to do with cowardice and slipperiness and unreliability as with gender. It wasn't that I wasn't thinking clearly. It was that I wasn't thinking at all. At least, not about that. I just wanted to hit a home run in the game.
It was more like a swing and a miss, and the things that saved them from imminent dismissal included some gaffes on Bachmann's part that required their own PR spin, and the fact that Fox News couldn't find a scrap of offensive material in the Roots' back catalog. Still, the experience changed Thompson for the better.
I have replayed that episode in my head hundreds of times, like Kennedy obsessives do with the Zapruder film. My drum set is up on a grassy knoll. Jimmy's desk is the book depository. The whole thing happens in terrible slow motion, though there's clearly only one shooter: me. In retrospect, I would have chosen Sam Cooke's "What a Wonderful World," with its "Don't know much about history" line.
So let's outro with Cooke.

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MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Questlove needs to shut up about this story.  It's pathetic.   He did like the wussiest most ineffective protest ever.  OHHHHHh you played a song!   What a badass.  Seriously, how stupid are you to be that accidentally sexist so Michele can play the victim?   I mean honestly Questlove must be an idiot since he is like the only person on Earth to look bad when going against Michele Bachmann.  I like some of his music but seriously what an idiot.   He should hope he gets kicked off the Jimmy Fallon show because it sucks.  

Kenny Peterson
Kenny Peterson

Breaking News: "Michelle Bachmann Woke Up This Morning, Sucked Air!" . City Pages found something wrong with this, wrote 2,500 words on the subject, printed as lead story, above the fold. Get over it!


I think no one caught on to the clever diss until the news broke. Personally, I detest Michelle Bachmann so I had no problem with the choice of song. My take is that respect is a two way street. You give respect to earn respect. Michelle Bachmann has a loooong history of offensive and disrespectful comments and behavior. The band was not directing anything towards women in general, just to this one lyin assed bitch. The band spoke truth to power and in this case, power is a ego tripping, slanderous, slimeball of a politician, I have zero problems with it. You don't lay down with dogs and act shocked and hurt when you wake up with fleas.

Had it been a more level headed politician like Amy Klobuchar or Condoleeza Rice, Questlove would have probable drowned in the sea of public rebuke. However for someone who has built their entire career on false accusations and an utter lack of shame, the public rebuke could not sustain any heat because deep down inside, people know that it's true. Actions speak louder than words and Michelle Bachmann's actions have proven again and again, she is indeed one lyin assed bitch.

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