“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,” Fallon wrote on Twitter. “I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”
The hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty began trending early Tuesday with Twitter users calling out the “Tonight Show” host for the racist skit, which first aired in 2000 and also features “SNL” alum Darrell Hammond. In the comedic sketch, Fallon does an impersonation of Rock while wearing full blackface to appear like the former cast member who was on “SNL” from 1990-1993.
Fallon has yet to respond to the criticism, and NBC did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment. Rock was also not immediately available for comment when contacted by Variety.
The clip began to resurface late Monday night when a tweet by the user @chefboyohdear stated, “NBC fired Megyn Kelly for mentioning blackface. Jimmy Fallon performed on NBC in blackface.” The video has over 900,000 views on Twitter, and includes the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty.
Kelly, the former Fox News anchor, had a tumultuous run at NBC where she hosted her own hour of the “Today” show on a $69 million contract, which quickly went downhill and ended with her departure from the network after she faced severe criticism for a conversation about wearing blackface on Halloween. The network publicly condemned Kelly for the controversy, and cancelled her show, “Megyn Kelly Today,” in fall of 2018. After an aggressive legal battle, Kelly and NBC reached an exit agreement in early 2019, and since, she has voiced her opinions against political correctness and “cancel culture.”
At the time of the Kelly debacle, social media users called out Fallon’s use of blackface on “SNL” and also brought up a 2000 episode from “The Man Show” where Jimmy Kimmel was wearing blackface. Sarah Silverman is another comedian who faced repercussions for wearing blackface during a comedy bit — the comedian revealed she was fired from a movie after a photo from a 2007 episode of “The Sarah Silverman Show” resurfaced, in which she was wearing blackface while playing a character.
Although this is not the first time Fallon’s “SNL” clip has resurfaced, the recent backlash highlights the volatility of social media, proving that public figures never know when something from their past may catch fire.
Fallon isn’t the only public figure who has been subject to intense scrutiny over resurfaced clips lately. Tyra Banks was skewered for her commentary on “America’s Next Top Model” from the early 2000s, as the show has gained popularity among viewers who are binging the reality competition show while quarantined at home.