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About the Time Tina Fey Nearly Got "The Roots'" Questlove Fired from Jimmy Fallon's Show

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | June 24, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | June 24, 2013 |

Questlove, drummer and joint front-man of “The Roots,” has a memoir coming out called Mo’ Meta Blues, and excerpts are popping up all over the place. From what I’ve seen, it seems like a must-read book, especially for fans of “The Roots,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and Prince, if you’re into stories about Questlove roller skating with the Purple One.

What I didn’t know, however, until I read this excerpt over on Salon, is that Tina Fey — of all people — actually got Questlove briefly fired from “Late Night.” It came after the Michelle Bachman debacle, when he played Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” when Bachman came out, creating a conservative firestorm that nearly cost him his job. Seven months later, still in a precarious position with “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and the powers that be (namely, Lorne Michaels), Questlove inadvertently took aim at the wonderling of Lorne Michaels, Tina Fey:

There was also an issue with her appearances on Fallon. In the history of the show, there were only a handful of guests who came out to talk to Jimmy without waving to the band. We had a little ritual where we marked that kind of thing down. Tiger Woods did it, twice, and Tina Fey, at various points had done it five times. Maybe it was shyness or reserve. I understood that; I often felt the same way. But after a while it wore on me. All those things were on my mind when I was asked the question on Andy Cohen’s show, and I said something that I thought was a tongue-in-cheek, faux-wounded remark: “Tina Fey, you are never nice to the Roots. We’re from Philadelphia. Be nice to the Roots!” But of course, because the media is a game that people play, they took that one sentence out of context and found a free-frame of my face, looking angry, and all of a sudden there I was on the front page of the Huffington Post, having trouble yet again with a powerful woman.

This time, Lorne had a fit. “I want him out of here,” he said. “He’s gone.” I thought he was a little angrier than the incident deserved, but it was only seven months after Bachmann, and things had been building. In fact, I think that I was fired for about an hour, until Jimmy begged for my job back.

Check out the whole excerpt on Salon, where Questlove writes at fascinating length about
the walk-on
. You can also buy his book, and you should.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.