Jimmy Fallon apologizes for blackface 'SNL' sketch: 'There is no excuse for this'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Jimmy Fallon has publicly responded to an online controversy that erupted after a two-decades-old Saturday Night Live sketch surfaced on Twitter that showed him performing in blackface. “There is no excuse for this,” the current host of The Tonight Show wrote in his own Twitter statement. “I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”

Originally aired in 2000, the offending sketch features Fallon playing fellow SNL veteran Chris Rock, who appears alongside Darrell Hammond as then-Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? host Regis Philbin. Emerging to audible gasps from the audience, Fallon-as-Rock proceeds to make uncomfortable jokes like, “I’ve seen Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and guess what? Not a lot of black folks on the show. ... Know why? ‘Cause black folks don’t like to answer questions!”

The SNL clip was resurfaced by a Twitter account that features the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty, as well as a note that references Megyn Kelly’s high-profile departure from NBC in 2018 after making widely-condemned comments about blackface on the now-defunct Megyn Kelly Today. “NBC fired Megan Kelly for mentioning blackface,” the note reads. “Jimmy Fallon performed on NBC in blackface.”

Reaction to the video was swift, and split between those who condemned Fallon outright and those who took the age of the sketch into account.

The latter tweet revived another blackface-related controversy that erupted earlier this month over Ben Stiller’s 2008 Hollywood satire Tropic Thunder, which features Robert Downey Jr. as a movie star so committed to Method acting that he has a “pigmentation alteration” procedure to play an African-American character in a Vietnam War film.

The Iron Man star received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his over-the-top performance and defended the film in a January appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience. “Ninety percent of my black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great,’” he remarked on the podcast, adding: “It's an interesting and necessary meditation on where is the pendulum? ... You know, there's a morality clause here on this planet and it's a big price to pay and I think having a moral psychology is job one. Sometimes, you just gotta go, 'Yeah, I [f*****] up.' Again, not in my defense, but Tropic Thunder was about how wrong that is."

Like clockwork, the 2004 comedy White Chicks — starring Marlon and Shawn Wayans as FBI agents who go undercover as white socialite sisters — was inevitably invoked in relation to the #jimmyfallonisoverparty controversy. That’s when Marlon Wayans himself logged on to defend both Fallon and his own movie.

Fallon may have apologized for his role in the SNL sketch, but it sound sounds like Wayans, at least, has no beef... or regrets.

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