By Gil Kaufman
Back in January, President Obama wowed the public with his rendition of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” while delivering a speech, and last night the the commander-in-chief gave a scripted performance during an appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” President Obama joined Fallon in delivering the news segment in a slow jam session.
“I want to slow jam the news, and I’m not the only one,” Fallon told his audience as the on-stage curtain parted and a smiling Obama strutted out purposefully to wild applause. “I’m President Barack Obama and I, too, want to slow jam the news,” the slow-jammer-in-chief said as house band the Roots broke into a few funky bars of “Hail to the Chief.”
Looking into the camera while the Roots laid down a silky groove, Obama said, “On July 1st of this year the interest rates on Stafford student loans, the same loans that many of you use to help pay for college are set to double. And that means some hard-working students will be paying about $1,000 extra just to get their education. So I’ve called on Congress to prevent this from happening. What we’ve said is simple: now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people.”
The camera then swung to Fallon, in the foreground, as he rumbled, “Ohhh yeahhh, you should listen to the president!”
“Or as I like to call him, the Preezy of the United Steezy,” Fallon said without cracking a smile. “Things are heating up inside Congress’ chambers behind all those closed doors, so the president made a few discreet calls across the aisle, he said, ‘Hey, let’s get together on this one. Without an affordable Stafford loan, where can a student turn? The Pell Grant is a beautiful thing, but with college getting more expensive, is it enough by itself to satisfy all your collegiate needs? Oh Pell no!”
Obama also managed to keep a straight face throughout the bit, even as Roots rapper Black Thought tossed out Kim and Kanye and Tim Tebow jokes and Fallon referred to him as the “Barackness Monster.” The president later sat down just hours after giving a speech earlier in the day on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where the show aired from on Tuesday night. He joked about being nervous appearing on the late night talker and lamented that he was “surrounded” by women in his rental property (the White House) and that sometimes they pick on him and First Dog, Bo. “We go to the man cave, turn on Sports Center, have a couple beers,” Obama explained of what he and Bo do to get away sometimes. He also gave a shout out to the Comedy Central show “Key and Peele,” praising a bit where the actor who plays Obama has an “anger translator.”
Asked about the secret service prostitution scandal in Columbia, Obama admitted he was “pretty mad” at the “couple of knuckleheads” that detracted from the great work his security detail does on a daily basis. And, sadly, he told viewer “Bobo” that he would not be legalizing marijuana. Going all in on appealing to the wireless generation, Obama answered a question from one viewer about why his parents should vote for the president over Romney by dictating it as a tweet. He also said he’s met Romney and that he seems like a good family man, but, alas, “we are not friends.”
After discussing his more embarrassing moment as the leader of the free world (accidentally walking out of a meeting with some human rights activists before any of the speakers had taken the stage and having to turn around and walk back in), he got down to the very serious issue of student loan interest rates that are about to double unless Congress acts. “The single most important investment young people can make remains a college education,” he said, noting that he and First Lady Michelle Obama didn’t finish paying off their student loans until eight years ago.
With the exception of a tune from the Dave Matthews Band, Fallon spent the entire show speaking to the president. It’s unclear, though, if Obama’s slow jam will end up on the comedy album Fallon is releasing on June 12,Blow Your Pants Off, which is slated to feature bits from Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Paul McCartney and Justin Timberlake.