The Internet never forgets, and Jimmy Fallon was reminded of that fact Wednesday when 20-year-old footage of him impersonating Chris Rock on Saturday Night Live surfaced prompting calls for his firing. In response, Fallon issued an apology on Twitter saying “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.”
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.
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) May 26, 2020
The clip, which has been scrubbed from NBC’s site, has Fallon doing a pretty cringe-worthy parody of Chris Rock as a guest on Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee, with Darrell Hammond playing Regis Philbin. Variety notes that the footage was tweeted out by a user @chefboyohdear with the caption “NBC fired Megyn Kelly for mentioning blackface. Jimmy Fallon performed on NBC in blackface.”
It’s worth nothing that Kelly, the face of NBC’s family-oriented morning show, had a long history of making racially charged and insensitive remarks, and her eventual firing was due in part to her insistence that blackface should be OK for Halloween costumes (it’s not), not merely mentioning it. Fallon, on the other hand, is a comedian — one of a few who’ve crossed the blackface line and later issued an apology, including Sarah Silverman.
NBC has yet to make a statement.
Blackface aside, this isn’t the first fiasco Fallon’s faced in recent years: in 2016, Fallon was slammed by many who saw his lighthearted interview and hair-tousling with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump as minimizing Trump’s history of racist and sexist remarks.