Talk show host Jimmy Fallon apologises after an SNL clip of him in blackface resurfaces online

This is what you need to know about the apology (Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)This is what you need to know about the apology (Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
This is what you need to know about the apology (Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

US talk show host Jimmy Fallon has come under fire after a clip from his time on NBC’s comedy showcase Saturday Night Live (SNL) resurfaced online, showing him in blackface.

This is everything you need to know about what happened.

Why did Jimmy Fallon appear in blackface?

In 2000, Jimmy Fallon starred in a sketch on Saturday Night Live, in which he impersonates fellow SNL cast member and comedian Chris Rock while wearing blackface.

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Having originally aired 20 years ago, NBC removed the sketch from the internet, but it has continued to circulate on Twitter and YouTube.

SNL has seen other cast members don blackface in the past, with Billy Crystal playing Sammy Davis Jr in 1984 and more recently with Fred Armisen portraying Barack Obama.

Other figures in comedy have found themselves in controversy due to blackface.

Fellow late night host Jimmy Kimmel also faced similar criticisms after wearing blackface for a sketch on The Man Show in 2000, and Sarah Silverman did the same for a 2007 episode of The Sarah Silverman Show.

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Why did the clip resurface?

The clip has surfaced online periodically, and was most recently shared on Twitter on Monday (25 May) night, and proceeded to go viral.

The tweet that resurfaced the clip included the caption: “NBC fired Megan Kelly for mentioning blackface.

“Jimmy Fallon performed on NBC in blackface.”

The caption refers to when US morning show anchor Megyn Kelly said that blackface would be acceptable in the context of Halloween costumes. She later apologised for her comments, but was still let go by NBC News.

The video has gained over a million views and 7.8k likes on Twitter.

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Hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty began trending on Twitter on Tuesday (26 June).

Who are Jimmy Fallon and Chris Rock?

Both Fallon and Rock were cast members on SNL, from 1998 to 2004, and from 1990 to 1993 respectively.

Fallon then left SNL to pursue film roles, later becoming the sixth permanent host of late night talk show The Tonight Show in 2014.

How has Jimmy Fallon responded?

Taking to his official Twitter account, Fallon tweeted: “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.

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“I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”

Chris Rock has yet to make any comments about the situation.

How have fans reacted?

The online response to the clip and Fallon's apology has been varied, with some defending his actions due to the fact it happened 20 years ago, and others maintaining that it’s still wrong.

“Stop saying it’s okay because he did blackface 20 years ago. He was 25. He knew what he was doing,” one Twitter user wrote.

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Another tweeted in response to Fallon’s apology: “I’m gonna say this, it wasn’t cool. Even back then it wasn’t cool. What is important is growth.

“Owning up to the mistakes, learning from them, and not just moving on but using it as a chance to teach others. We love you, but you’re right. There is no excuse.”

In response to someone writing that what Fallon did “wasn’t blackface”, another person wrote: “If he painted his face black, then it’s blackface.

“It doesn’t matter who he was impersonating. Wrong is wrong. Blackface has never been okay and it really doesn’t matter if Chris Rock said it was cool or not. It isn’t cool.”