Jimmy Fallon has been producing new episodes of The Tonight Show from home for weeks, but he found himself making headlines for reasons other than his surroundings. A Saturday Night Live sketch from 2000 in which Fallon did a blackface impersonation of Chris Rock resurfaced and started making the rounds on social media, resulting in #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. Now, the NBC late-night host has used his Tonight Show monologue to address the blackface sketch on-camera, and he got emotional.
Jimmy Fallon opened his monologue by sharing that he really had to examine himself after the story came out about his Saturday Night Live impression of SNL alum Chris Rock in blackface, then said this:
And I was horrified. Not of the fact that people were trying to cancel me or cancel the show, which is scary enough. But the thing that haunted me the most was, 'How do I say I love this person? I respect this guy more than I respect most humans.' I'm not a racist. I don't feel this way. And instead, what I kept getting advised was to just stay quiet and to not say anything. And that's the advice because we're all afraid, and I took it for a minute. I took the advice. And I thought, 'God, I'm gonna do this wrong. You're right, I'm going to say something and get myself into even more trouble. I'm gonna make this worse. I don't know what to do.' So I thought about it and I realized that I can't not say I'm horrified and I'm sorry and I'm embarrassed.
Initially, Jimmy Fallon addressed the blackface SNL sketch via Twitter, saying that he "made a terrible decision" and was "very sorry" for what he did. His monologue on the June 1 installment of The Tonight Show went into far more detail about his reaction to the Chris Rock impersonation spreading and the question of whether he should address the issue or stay silent.
In the monologue stating that he's "not a racist," Jimmy Fallon also went out of his way to make it clear that he respects Chris Rock. Fallon elaborated on how it felt to address the blackface controversy rather than follow advice and remain silent:
What that small gesture did for me was break my own silence. What then I started to do was talk to some experts, some of which are here tonight and this week, and I realized that the silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me and the rest of us are doing. Staying silent. We need to say something. We need to keep saying something.
This monologue wasn't the only way that Jimmy Fallon intends to continue addressing current events and protests. Following his comments on the Saturday Night Live blackface sketch, Fallon spoke with NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. At the time of writing, Chris Rock has not commented on the sketch or Fallon's comments.
To see Jimmy Fallon's full statement and his interactions with Derrick Johnson on The Tonight Show, check out the clip below:
Find out if and how Jimmy Fallon continues to address his blackface impersonation of Chris Rock and/or brings in more experts to share their insight on current events with new episodes of The Tonight Show on NBC weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET. Episodes are still being filmed with Fallon socially-distant and based at home.
For some additional viewing options for now and the not-too-distant future, check out our 2020 summer premiere schedule.