Chris Rock is standing by his friend and fellow comedian Jimmy Fallon after the “Tonight Show” host drew sharp criticism for an old “Saturday Night Live” skit that resurfaced in May.
In a new interview published Wednesday in the New York Times, Rock addressed the controversial segment from 2000, which featured Fallon wearing blackface to portray Rock. Fallon apologized for making the “terrible” and “unquestionably offensive” decision to use blackface on the show.
“Hey, man, I’m friends with Jimmy,” Rock told NYT. “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 discussed the incident in a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, dismissing the sketch as “bad comedy” and adding that Fallon “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.” After Fallon tweeted a brief apology in May for his past behavior amid mounting public scrutiny, Rock said he called his pal to tell him that he loves him.
Fallon later apologized again and more thoroughly on “The Tonight Show,” despite being advised “to just be quiet and to not say anything” about the situation to avoid further criticism.
“I realized that I can’t not say I’m horrified and I’m sorry and I’m embarrassed,” Fallon said at the time. “And what that small gesture did for me was break my own silence. … Silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me, and the rest of us, are doing. We need to say something. We need to keep saying something. … We all need to be talking about this.”
When asked more broadly about the recent removal of blackface episodes from several TV series — including “Scrubs,” “30 Rock,” “Community” and “The Office” — Rock made his position clear.
“Blackface ain’t cool, okay?” he told the New York Times. “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.”
Rock is scheduled to join Fallon on “The Tonight Show” in coming weeks to promote the fourth season of the FX anthology series “Fargo,” which stars Rock as a Missouri mob boss in 1950s Kansas City and premieres Sept. 27.
Chris Rock, Saturday Night Live, Blackface, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
World news – CA – Chris Rock says he wasn’t offended by Jimmy Fallon’s blackface impression