President Obama appears Tuesday night on what Jimmy Fallon dubbed the “holy crap edition” of his talk show, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” a title made in reference to the Commander-in-Chief’s first appearance on the program.
Shot at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, for a live audience of primarily college students, it was the first stop in the president’s visit to a significant swing state that went blue for the first time in more than 30 years during the 2008 election.
Those hoping to attend waited in line for hours in the rain for tickets, days before the taping. People who didn’t make the cut, according to Fallon, were “students, professors and Joe Biden.”
Fallon and Obama began their stint by "slow jamming the news," a regular segment on the show.
The lights were dimmed, the camera zoomed in, and The Roots slowed it down for the presidential crooner – this time to the soulful song of student loans. Addressing the hot button issue of his North Carolina trip, Obama highlighted his call to congress. “What we’ve said is simple” he began, “now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people.”
To which Fallon replied, “Awww yeah. You should listen to the President – or, as I like to call him, the Preezy of the United Steezy…”
The interview continued with a mix of light-hearted banter and a few probing questions for the president, who briefly addressed the current Secret Service scandal when questioned by Fallon.
"The Secret Service, these guys are incredible," Obama said. "They protect me, they protect our girls. A couple of knuckleheads shouldn't detract from that they do. What they were thinking, I don't know. That's why they're not there anymore."
The president, an admitted fan of the Tar Heels, threw out a few college-centric jokes, poked fun at his former “afro” when Fallon revealed a photo of him from his college days, and tapped further into his agenda to reduce interest rates on student loans. Obama commented that he and the First Lady, Michelle Obama, “didn't finish paying off all of our student loans until about eight years ago, and I'm president of the United States."
The more serious points of discussion revolved around Obama’s plans to promote college education by reducing student debt, as well as his ongoing energy policies.
On Mitt Romney, Obama's presumptive Republican challenger in the November general election, the president said, “We’re not friends; his wife is lovely," and he "seems like somebody who cares about his family.”
For the most part, it seemed the audience was receptive of the president.
Cameron Parker, a UNC senior and former opinions editor with The Daily Tarheel, told msnbc.com, “People were really stoked by the president. Personally, I think one of the biggest highlights was seeing the president in a less formal setting. He was definitely in politicking mode, but we got to catch him in a more laid back and humorous setting.”
Of one potential dip in the mood, Parker added, “Fallon asked what Obama would pass if he could do one thing without opposition and Obama took a second. It felt like he wavered a bit before giving a pretty diluted answer about energy.”
UNC journalist Jarrad Cole live-tweeted from the event, noting “Fallon is super nervous,” and “Obama says he won't be legalizing marijuana anytime soon.”
Cole’s final tweet from the taping, “Fallon asked Obama if the campaign would get ugly. Obama didn't say no.”
After the event concluded, the late-night host offered his own impression of the show.
Tweeted Fallon, “The President has left the building. This has been one of the most exciting things I've ever done. #ObamaOnFallon.”
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