Jimmy Fallon Reflects On 'SNL' Blackface Controversy In Emotional 'Tonight Show' Monologue
On Monday, Jimmy Fallon returned to The Tonight Show for the first time since a clip of him in blackface on Saturday Night Live generated controversy the week before. See his apology message and conversation on self-improvement here.
Jimmy Fallon made his return to The Tonight Show with an emotional monologue and a conversation with NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
The host was in the headlines last week after the reappearance of an SNL sketch that showed him in blackface impersonating Chris Rock.
But his talk show was already on hiatus for the week, so Fallon addressed the incident on video for the first time on the night of Monday, June 1.
"I had to really examine myself this week because a story came out about me on SNL doing an impression of Chris Rock, in black face, and I was horrified," Fallon began.
"Not of the fact that people were trying to cancel me or cancel the show… but the thing that haunts 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 don't feel this way.' And instead what I kept getting advised was to just stay quiet and not say anything."
Jimmy Fallon wants to educate with the help of experts
The comedian and late night host went on to describe how he handled the conflicting advice he received on how to approach the backlash.
"I took the advice. I said, 'I'm going to do this wrong. You're right, I'm going to say something and get myself into more trouble. I'm going to make this worse. I don't know what to do,'" Fallon explained.
"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. And what that small gesture did for me was break my own silence."
Fallon shared that he's been in conversation with experts, who helped him come to the conclusion that "silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me and the rest of us are doing. We're staying silent. We need to say something."
Following the monologue, Fallon was joined by NAACP President Derrick Johnson. They positioned Fallon's mistakes within a conversation about becoming educated on being an ally and self-improvement — with reference to the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter protests.
"That was powerful, but most importantly, it's about courage," Johnson said of Fallon's monologue and willingness to create a space for education.
You can watch the monologue and the full conversation with Derrick Johnson below.
Fallon and Johnson encouraged viewers to visit the website of the NAACP to learn more and support the movement with donations.
Don Lemon joins Jimmy Fallon for conversation post-blackface controversy
CNN's Don Lemon also joined Fallon during the show and praised his statement. "That was really honest and very brave of you and I appreciate you having the depth really to do what you did in that opening monologue," Lemon added.