Five Best Guests
1. Tie: Artie Lange and Olivia Munn
I don’t know if you can capture lightning in a bottle, but I will say this much — I’ve never seen a more ironic one-two punch in the history of the show. We all had crazy expectations for Lange ’cause of his reputation on [Howard] Stern and sure enough, he was comic gold. So gold, I thought there was no way Munn (who I know from the G4 channel) would stand a chance. But sure enough, she hung in there with the big boys and next thing I know everything she said was punch-line-worthy on some “take that, Artie” level (actually her portion was heavily censored and edited and not ready for post-prime time). Of course to top it off Susan Sarandon does a cameo walk-on. I never expected so much nor laughed so hard.
2. Alec Baldwin
I just knew it would take a 88 mph DeLorean, Eddie Murphy circa 1985, Richard Pryor circa ’76, Carlin circa ’75, Cosby ’67 and Andy Kaufman circa whenever at a summit meeting to top the bullets Baldwin was throwing Matrix-style at Jimmy — especially doing half the interview in the voice of Tracy Morgan. (Actually, it was so funny, Lenny Kravitz insisted if he ever does the show again he wants to do Baldwin’s “let us play with your look” gag.)
3. Drew Barrymore
Of course Fallon is going to have chemistry with the woman that introduced him to his wife. During the first week (which was awkward for all of us — not just Jimmy) it was Barrymore that finally broke the ice and calmed him down to a level of cool that made him seem more comfortable than new guy on the block. Once she broke through the gates, we all felt assured that in no time the Jimmy we all fell in love with would come out of his shell and relax a little.
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4. Jeff Musial
Who? What? Jeff is consistent and full of energy and of course you are going to have a viral moment when you pull a 20-foot boa constrictor from out of the trunk.
Red felt. Full of punch lines (and other memorable quotes when the camera was on commercial) and balls like no other (he loves telling Jimmy to “relax man… you got the job already!”). Coolest guest ever.
Five Best Sit-Ins With the Roots
1. Tie: Q-Tip/Mos Def
What can I say? The coolest of the cool. And we get to play their songs! During both of their cameos I was like, “Coolest job ever!”
>2. George Benson
His “On Broadway” was the first song I played in public on an adult drum set, which then showed my parents I was serious about my craft. I was six.
3. Chick Corea
I gotta say I was near colonic city playing with such a legend. He made us feel at ease and comfortable. Definitely working with him again.
4. David Murray
The cool part of this job is the power we have to sometimes bring an artist forth that you might not be all that familiar with. It’s criminal that when this cat came on the scene JazzTimes magazine was pegging him as the next Coltrane and he has yet to see the glory of his hard work. Murray is more than a “musician’s musician.” I like playing with him simply because I can’t believe a person loves music so much he’s willing to warm up and practice his craft seven hours a day before he gigs. I’ve seen him go toe to toe and almost out-solo Tom Morello onstage once. That takes balls. The look on the crowd’s faces when he is mid-solo is priceless!
5. Kurt Rosenwinkle
Before he was a maniac composer and Verve Jazz artist, he was a cat in my social science class back at Philadelphia’s High School of Creative and Performing Arts. We haven’t played together in 20 years, and I must say it took me back to the high school jam-filled basement for me and Black Thought.
Five Best Musical Guest Collaborations
1. Christopher Cross/Michael McDonald — “Ride Like the Wind”
Before cats was making “yacht rock” playlists, I was making “Carlton Banks jam tapes” for the longest filled with soft rock. It holds a dear place in my heart. What better way than friggin’ “Ride Like the Wind” and “Sailing” (for the Net)?
2. Paul Simon — “Late in the Evening”
I’ll admit I just wanted to see what it would be like to fill Steve Gadd’s drum shoes for a sec and actually drum out a song that I always DJ in the clubs to astounding results.
3. Public Enemy — “Bring the Noise”
Man. If one album brought the Roots (me and Black Thought) together, I’ll say it’s a tie between De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising and Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Even though we put feelers out for De La (they cancelled last minute) I at least have the satisfaction of knowing we got to rock out to a song that was instrumental in bringing us together back in high school.
4. Jimmy Buffett — “Margaritaville”
This show has brought out my inner smooth and I’m so not mad at that. To top it off, playing with Buffett solved the mystery of the whereabouts of master percussionist Ralph MacDonald. (Me: “Dude, where have you been all this time? I thought you retired!!!!” RM: “Oh man, I been with Jim for about 30 years now!” Me: “Wait, you telling me you left session music for…. Jimmy Buffett? Why!?” RM: “I’ll show you my checks and I bet you’ll follow suit.”)
5. Mos Def — “Casa Bey”
With four days’ warning, I unknowingly agreed to back Mos on the equivalent of the hip-hop “Rites of Spring on 45” mashed with Frank Zappa’s worst rhythm nightmare. I kicked, screamed, protested, told Mos and his label, “Fuck you, you ain’t ruining my rep with a song that changes meters six times in the first 30 seconds!” Then it hit me four hours before showtime: “Mos is tryin to test us!” We did the craziest cram ever known to man. With two hours left, we listened to the song about 19 times without interruption before we even attempted to practice, and then we went over it an additional 20 times before we got it halfway decent. We kept all the show songs real simple while cheat cramming in rehearsals and what do you know: We asked for a five-minute cram session and friggin’ Davided the shit outta that Goliath! That was the hardest challenge and we came out victorious.
Five Best Snarky Walk-On Songs
1. Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt — Beck’s “Loser”
They were none the wiser.
2. Serena Williams — E.U.’s “Da Butt”
First band fight: our first snark walk-on and half were like, “that’s mean” while the other half was like, “pussies!” So despite mutiny (Kirk and James refused to participate) we opened a new door that could never be closed and after the Internet community went crazy (Common too, from miles away) we now require “lite playful snark” in each walk on.
3. John McCain — The Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann”
Although I was gonna not wear my political sleeves on the show so much, I was not going to give in and miss my chance to have fun clowning McCain. Actually, I was pretty nice about it. My initial choice really drew the line and even I decided to let it go (“Hip-Hop Hooray” from Naughty by Nature — and if you really research and Google why you will understand why I decided not to do that mean of a walk on).
4. Mancow Muller — James Brown’s “Talkin’ Loud & Sayin’ Nothing”
5. Jessica Biel — Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him”
Five Cool-Ass Walk-On Songs
1. Donald Trump — The Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”
Jay-Z told me that was cool as shit.
2. Emily Blunt — Madvillain’s “America’s Most Blunted”
The fact that I could use a Madlib and MF Doom song for a walk-on song on national television to me is mind blowing!
3. Brooke Shields — Jay-Z’s “Hello Brooklyn”
4. Kelly Ripa — “The Kelly Song” from Cheers
I think this is when I became cool in the eyes of the staff of the show. Because most of the 30 and 40 year-olders remember that episode of Cheers when Woody had to make up a song on the spot to avoid the fact that he couldn’t afford an expensive birthday gift for his rich girlfriend.
5. Richard Branson — Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”
Top Three “Oh No They Didn’t” Songs
1. Ashlee Simpson — Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True”
What made this classic was the fact we did the VH1 Behind the Music version of the song in which Vanilli explained that the broken loop kept going “Girl, you know it’s … girl, you know it’s …” when they got busted for lip-synching in concert — and that is how we did it verbatim.
2. Thomas Lennon — N.W.A’s “Fuck Tha Police”
Because of the zany nature of Reno 911 I knew this would be our only chance to see how far we could get past the censors. I believe that we managed to sneak the entire phrase on air.
3. Ryan Reynolds — Gang Starr’s “Ex to the Next”
I feel “alil” guilty for this one but I was Team Alanis all day and felt I had to weigh in (or maybe I was mad he married Scarlett Johansson so I decided to weigh in).