A drummer can be a comedian’s best friend, accentuating a punch line with a quick ba-dum-ching. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s relationship to comedy is deeper than that. For one, if it wasn’t for Questlove and The Roots, it’s possible Jimmy Fallon wouldn’t be taking over “The Tonight Show.”
The Roots were why I started watching Fallon’s “Late Night.” So many bits — Black Simon & Garfunkel, the History of Rap, Slow Jamming the News — wouldn’t be possible without the band.
As Questlove writes in his new memoir, “Mo’ Meta Blues,” comedy is a big part of his career. When The Roots were struggling commercially in the early 2000s, comedy was his savior. He hung around Dave Chappelle’s stand-up shows and became musical director of “Chappelle’s Show” in 2003. “That experience, mixing music and entertainment … was the best preparation imaginable for my Fallon job,” he writes.
Questlove’s book is packed with stories about comedians. There’s the hotel party with Tracy Morgan; roller-skating with Eddie Murphy and Prince; and his pseudo-beef with Tina Fey.
The writing, too, is genuinely funny; the rhythm of comedy comes naturally to Questlove.