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What Barack Obama Refused to Do When He "Slow Jammed the News" with Jimmy Fallon

  • When Jimmy Fallon was still hosting Late Night in 2012 ,one of his signature bits was "Slow Jam the News," and he scored a major triumph by convincing the sitting President of the United States, Barack Obama, to participate in the sketch.

    On Friday's Tonight Show, Fallon reminisced about that segment with President Obama, when the two revealed where the-then POTUS drew the line.

    "It was great, one of our best things we ever did," Fallon said of the segment. "At the end, I said 'can you go, like, ooooh yeaaaaaahhh' and you go 'uh, no." And I go 'yeah, but maybe can you just give a little, just a little 'oooh' and you go 'yeah, no, I'm not gonna do that.'" 

    Obama laughed, but was still complimentary. "That was one of my greatest pieces ever, by the way. I loved 'Slow Jam.' That was terrific." 

    In contrast, Fallon pointed out that Obama was much looser when he appeared on his show the second time around, toward the end of his presidency.

    "We did another 'Slow Jam,' and at the end, I wrote in a part where I wanted you to kind of stiffly say 'like Rihanna, we have to go to work, work, work, work, work' and you go 'why do you have me doing that? Can't I go like [dances] 'work, work, work, work, work'?' and I go 'stop, you cannot.' And I was telling you 'no, no, no, you are this close to leaving the White House, do not do that now. You've been so perfect all the way, we're not doing that.'"

    Obama then asked a pointed question. "Are you saying that would have affected my legacy? Because that is a jam, and I know that jam well. So I'm a little insulted that you didn't think I could pull it off."

    Fallon recalled that he also introduced the president to Madonna that night, and that Obama was "all business" when shaking her hand, not going in for any of Queen Madge's flirty shenanigans, and that Michelle Obama would have approved.

    "You know what, don't think that you elected a fool," Obama said of that meeting. "I knew how to handle my business."

    Here is Obama's first Slow Jam the News segment in 2012. 

    Here is the clip of Obama slow-jamming the news in 2016.

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    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Barack Obama, NBC, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Madonna