The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon found himself in a rather unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation recently, as the Internet got up in a tizzy over a Saturday Night Live sketch was unearthed in which Fallon used blackface makeup in order to impersonate fellow SNL veteran Chris Rock. Fallon tried to balance the chaos early by sharing a public apology on the matter, and though a large number of posts slammed both Fallon and SNL, there were definitely more than a few people defending him. Take Jamie Foxx, for instance.
Perhaps surprisingly (or perhaps not, given his career history), the Oscar-winning Jamie Foxx came out in defense of Jimmy Fallon for his 20-year-old blackface sketch. Foxx, who was not alone in remembering the Chris Rock impersonation to be genuinely funny, commented on Instagram with the following:
Bro you ain't got to apologize for shit. You are a comedian... and a great one at that. You did an incredible impersonation of Chris Rock... it was not black face... we did a show called in living color where we did a Characters from every race... You are all the way good... keep doing you my friend! You are necessary.
Jamie Foxx followed that comment up by calling out everyone who railed on Jimmy Fallon without ever having watched the sketch. As well, he advised those who were angry to transfer their angst away from Fallon and towards the people that supposedly deserve it more.
Plus, Jamie Foxx referenced his former show In Living Color, which has long been considered one of the most politically incorrect sketch comedies of the modern TV era. A large part of that was the race-based humor that In Living Color put on display on a weekly basis. Not to mention all the jokes told at the expense of other minorities, disabled people, children, celebrities, etc. (This story from Jim Carrey is a good, or bad, example.)
Because two comments just wasn't enough for Jamie Foxx to get this issue off of his mind, he also commented under E!'s news story about Fallon's apology, saying:
He was doing an impression of chris rock. It wasn't black face. We comedians I know it's a tough time right now. But this one is a stretch. . . . Let this one go. We got bigger fish to fry ... #changecourse.'
Many of Jimmy Fallon's fans echoed those thoughts from Jamie Foxx, saying that it was a goofy SNL sketch that didn't put forth other racist overtones or undertones beyond the blackface. Others agreed that Fallon coming under fire for the newly resurfaced clip, which was previously scrubbed from all online versions of the SNL episode in question, isn't being approached contextually, and is a similar situation to the Internet recently freaking out about Robert Downey Jr. playing a black man in Tropic Thunder. Meanwhile, others wondered if this mean Cancel Culture was coming after Eddie Murphy. next for playing white people in Coming to America.
Now, Adam Sandler has explained that he used to get ticked off at Jimmy Fallon for impersonating him on SNL, but then eventually got over it. But as of this point, Chris Rock has yet to chime in with how he felt about he was treated in the 2000 SNL sketch. Stay tuned for that.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights on NBC at 11:35 p.m. ET. Check out everything coming to the small screen soon with our Summer 2020 TV premiere schedule.