Jimmy Fallon faced backlash over the summer after a resurfaced clip of him wearing blackface on SNL went viral. The sketch, from 2000, depicted the Tonight Show host as Chris Rock, who he also impersonated during his audition for the sketch show. Fallon apologized for his “unquestionably offensive decision” and Rock called him a “great guy” and said that he doesn’t think Fallon “intended to hurt me, and he didn’t,” but we hadn’t heard from SNL‘s head honcho, Lorne Michaels, until today, in an interview with the New York Times.
“I wish I remembered better. I’ve seen the photo, but it was 20 years ago, so Jimmy was in his 20s. He’d done Chris Rock in his audition, as he had done Adam Sandler, both of which were stunning. I think someone gave him bad advice,” Michaels said, adding that Fallon’s impression “was of the time. I know we’re in a granular period now where every decision you’ve made in your life is up for reassessment. But there was no malice in it, I can tell you that.” Michaels also listed old SNL sketches, some of which are among the show’s most popular, that would be considered problematic in 2020.
“I don’t think Gilda Radner could do Roseanne Roseannadanna and John [Belushi] could definitely not do the Samurai. Garrett Morris could not do News for the Hard of Hearing. I could go on and on. Steve [Martin] and Danny [Aykroyd] could not be Czech brothers because they’re not Czech. That criteria is not the greatest soil for comedy to thrive on. I’m not saying comedy should be the dominant thing in our lives. I’m just saying it’s important it exists because, in addition to everything, it’s a safety valve.”
My biggest takeaway here: Lorne calls Dan Aykroyd “Danny.” Going to think about that until October 3, when SNL returns with host Chris Rock and musical guest Megan Thee Stallion.
(Via the New York Times)