Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars instantly overshadowed everything that came before it, to the point where it was easy to forget what Rock was doing onstage in the first place: presenting for Best Documentary Feature, which went to Questlove. The Roots drummer won for his Sundance debut, Summer of Soul, about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. He was understandably overwhelmed as a first-time winner and unwilling bridge between the Slap and the show’s regularly scheduled programming. The drummer was able to keep his focus after the event, delivering a moving acceptance speech about his family and the festival — and now, he says he “really wasn’t aware” of what had happened in the moment. Questlove told his Tonight Show boss, Jimmy Fallon, that, as a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (he learned from Jerry Seinfeld), he was focused on his own mind before he took the stage. “When the commercial break was happening, I was just in my ‘Mmmmm,’” Questlove said. “So when I opened my eyes, I didn’t realize, like, Why is everyone so quiet?” He went on to say he thought it was a sketch between Rock and Smith at the time.
But now, with full awareness of what happened, the Slap hasn’t put a damper on Questlove’s Oscar win. The sleepless director told Fallon he was “spooning” his Oscar on his flight home (so no one would steal it) and that he was excited to get back to 30 Rock to do The Tonight Show. He also spoke about DJ-ing Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s pre-party, where Anna Wintour joined the mosh pit, and sitting next to the Encanto crew — which shared their Takis with him — at the ceremony.