Dude is actually pretty funny. (Credit: Chad Griffith)
Let it be known that within 15 minutes of the first episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, ?uestlove was providing drum-rolls for an audience-participation game called “Lick It for 10,” wherein some kid from Staten Island was goaded into licking a product-placed lawnmower for $10. This was the highlight of nobody’s life — Jimmy’s, ?uesto’s, the curious home viewer’s, the kid’s. (Maybe the kid’s.) But subtract a brutally awkward Robert De Niro interview — and a ramshackle Van Morrison performance confirming my suspicion that these Astral Weeks retrospective shows are basically just Van doing whatever the fuck he wants while a giant, unwieldy backing band struggles mightily to keep up with him — and Jimmy’s big debut was not exactly terrible. Justin Timberlake was funny, albeit so funny it was obvious he should be the host. And of course, as you may have heard, the Roots are involved.
In fact, last night’s undeniable highlight (which you can watch right here) was a bit entitled “Slow-Jam the News,” wherein the Roots lay down some sleazy boudoir funk, Jimmy rambles about the stimulus-package bill, and Black Thought, flexing heretofore unknown comedy chops, does chest-beating loverman vamps behind him — “You can’t rush my stimulus baby!” etc. He had easily the best line of the night: “She added an amendment.” You had to be there. Well, you didn’t have to be there, no. But you could’ve been there. The Roots? They had to be there. This is now their job. Good luck.