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Chris Rock defends Jimmy Fallon’s blackface impersonation of him: ‘He didn’t mean anything’

Fallon donned blackface for sketch in 2000 episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’

Adam White
Thursday 17 September 2020 07:43 BST
Jimmy Fallon says he was advised to stay quiet amid blackface controversy
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Chris Rock has defended Jimmy Fallon over a resurfaced comedy skit in which Fallon wore blackface to impersonate him.

In May, the clip from a 2000 episode of Saturday Night Live went viral, often alongside the hashtag #JimmyFallonIsOverParty. In the clip, Fallon wears blackface for an impression of Rock.

Rock has now stated that he valued the intention behind the impersonation.

“I’m friends with Jimmy,” Rock told The New York Times. “Jimmy’s a great guy. And he didn’t mean anything. A lot of people want to say intention doesn’t matter, but it does. And I don’t think Jimmy Fallon intended to hurt me. And he didn’t.”

Rock also declined to say that television has gone “too far” in its removal of historic comedy series that have used blackface. In recent months, comedies including Little Britain, 30 Rock and The Golden Girls have had episodes that feature the practice removed from streaming.

“If I say [they’ve gone too far], then I’m the worst guy in the world,” Rock said. “There’s literally one answer that ends my whole career. Blackface ain’t cool, OK? That’s my quote. Blackface is bad. Who needs it?

“It’s so sad, we live in a world now where you have to say, I am so against cancer. ‘I just assumed you liked cancer.’ No, no, no, I am so against it. You have to state so many obvious things you’re against.”

Chris Rock, and Jimmy Fallon's blackface impression of Rock in 2000 (Lisa O'Connor/Getty Images/NBC)

In May, Fallon apologised for his “terrible decision” to don blackface, and thanked social media users for “holding me accountable”.

Weeks later, he claimed that he had been advised to not address the blackface scandal publicly, but had chosen to express his regret.

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