NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — Late night host Jimmy Fallon used the opportunity of his return to the air on Monday after an 11 day break to address controversy that erupted over a decades-old SNL skit in which Fallon appeared in blackface.
The sketch, which aired in 2000, featured Fallon doing a credible impression of fellow SNL comedian Chris Rock along with Jimmy Kimmel, who appeared in an unflattering portrayal of NBA star Karl Malone.
Since the sketch resurfaced, Fallon has been subjected to criticism over social media, with the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending over Memorial Day weekend.
After the scandal broke, Fallon issued a brief statement via Twitter, apologizing for the sketch, and acknowlding that it was “unquestionably offensive” moment in his career.
On Monday, he went further, telling his audience: “I had to really examine myself in the mirror this week because a story came out about me on SNL doing an impression of Chris Rock in blackface. And I was horrified. Not of people trying to ‘cancel’ me or cancel this show, which is scary enough. The thing that haunted me the most was, how do I say I love this person?”
Fallon also revealed that he had been counseled to stay quiet and initially took that advice but has since decided to make a statement addressing the controversy in light of the wave of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
“I realized that I can’t not say I’m horrified and I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed,” Fallon said. “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. And we need to stop saying ‘that’s not OK’ more than just one day on Twitter.”
Fallon also appeared to have bumped his previously announced guest Lady Gaga to instead invite NAACP President Derrick Johnson on the show, followed by CNN host Don Lemon.