From Billy Crystal as Sammy Davis Jr. to Darrell Hammond as Jesse Jackson, Saturday Night Live has an embarrassing history of performers wearing blackface, and today one former cast member has addressed it directly. Late Monday night, a clip of a 2000 SNL sketch in which late-night host and former SNL cast member Jimmy Fallon does a Chris Rock impersonation in blackface began making the rounds on Twitter along with the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty. The original sketch isn’t available to view on SNL’s YouTube channel or the NBC website, but one version of the clip — featuring audience gasps that seem to be edited in along with a caption comparing the Fallon impersonation to Megyn Kelly getting fired from Today over her comments about blackface — is available to view:
The clip gained so much traction that Fallon eventually decided to address it on Twitter. “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,” he wrote. “I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”
This is not the first time Fallon’s Rock impersonation has made the rounds online. Just last year, Nick Cannon called out Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Sarah Silverman for performing comedy in blackface, and when Fallon hosted the Golden Globes in 2017 he impersonated Chris Rock again, leading some sites to point out that reprising an impersonation Fallon previously did in blackface might not be the best idea. Perhaps the best path forward is that everyone who is or was ever on SNL should watch this SNL sketch about how, believe it or not, blackface is bad and was never “funny or cool” — no, not even in the ’80s.