On Tuesday (May 26), the host of “The Tonight Show” issued a statement Tuesday via Twitter and thanked fans for holding him “accountable.”
“In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface,” Jimmy Fallon wrote. “There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”
The 20-year-old sketch went viral overnight after Twitter user @chefboyohdear posted the vintage clip featuring Darrell Hammond impersonating Regis Philbin and Fallon doing an impersonation of Chris Rock with his face painted brown.
“I’ve seen ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,’ and guess what? Not a lot of black folks on the show,” Mr. Fallon says in the skit, setting up his punchline. “Know why? Because black folks don’t like to answer questions. Oh, they want to be millionaires, but you got to ask their kind of question, like, ‘In 1981, how many grams of crack did Rick James smoke when he recorded “Super Freak”?’”
While backlash over the resurfaced video was swift, fans seemed to be divided over Fallon’s tweet apology.
“This was 20 years ago … Canceled culture needs to chill tf out Y’all do realize that not everything people do and say 20 years before is the same as what they do and say now,” one fan said.
“How gullible are you? He’s only apologizing now because it got publicized now. He would have carried it to the grave if he could have,” another responded.
Despite fans’ reactions to the clip, Fallon is far from the first modern-day comedian to don Blackface in his past. A video of Jimmy Kimmel, the host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” wearing blackface while impersonating the N.B.A. player Karl Malone on “The Man Show” resurfaced last year and a few years prior, Sarah Silverman was also dragged after a sketch from 2007 resurfaced show her donning Blackface in an episode of her former Comedy Central show “The Sarah Silverman Program.”