Jimmy Fallon has issued an apology after a video from an old Saturday Night Live! skit went viral this week. Back in 2000, the late-night talk show host did an impersonation of comedian Chris Rock while in blackface. The video recently resurfaced and has been circulating on social media. On Tuesday evening, Fallon took to his Twitter account to address the controversy.
“In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. 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,” Fallon tweeted a short while ago.
Fallon had been facing backlash through much of the day on Tuesday for the video, which also featured SNL alum Darrell Hammond. The clip first began to resurface after a user on Twitter suggested that Megyn Kelly had been fired from NBC for discussing blackface, even as this clip of Fallon existed. Thus far, the video has been viewed more than 950,000 times on Twitter.
In addition to the viral clip, the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty was also trending on Twitter for much of the day on Tuesday. As of yet, NBC has not issued a response to the backlash.
The response to Fallon’s apology was mixed. Some think The Tonight Show host had nothing to apologize for, even as others believed he needed to go farther in condemning the skit.
“Chris Rock gave the ok for the skit to be done. If CR thought it was funny and not offensive, than why should anyone else be offended?” one user wrote.
“It’s sad that a comedian that has done nothing but give back to his community has to apologize for a skit that was written by someone else 20 years ago,” another remarked.
Others thought that white people ultimately had very little say in whether Fallon’s apology was adequate.
“If you’re white you are not allowed to forgive/dismiss this, it’s not up to you,” a third user suggested.
The user added that, because the black community was directly impacted by the impersonation, it was ultimately up to members of that community to decide whether the host deserved forgiveness.
Other reactions saw Fallon’s willingness to apologize as a sign that he was willing to learn and grow over time. They wrote that those attacking Fallon for apologizing are discouraging him from learning from the backlash.
Another contingent of responses argued that comedy was different at the time, and that what was funny then may not be funny anymore. They pointed out that, while Fallon had performed in the sketch, it must have been approved and scripted by others, including Lorne Michaels, who ultimately approves everything the show does.