Jimmy Kimmel apologises as blackface video resurfaces

Justin Harp
Photo credit: Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

From Digital Spy

US late-night show host Jimmy Kimmel has publicly apologised for using blackface in the past.

The Jimmy Kimmel Live host has been under fire after footage from his old Comedy Central series The Man Show began recirculating on social media, showing him in blackface playing NBA legend Karl Malone.

Kimmel, who has just been unveiled as the host of the 2020 Primetime Emmy Awards, released a statement on Tuesday (June 23) to apologise for his past indiscretions while also condemning those on the right seeking to use his mistake as political revenge for his attacks on President Trump.

"I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us," he said. "That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologise to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke."

Photo credit: Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

The comedian went on: "On KROQ radio in the mid-90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone. In the late 90s, I continued impersonating Malone on TV. We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible.

"I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl's skin colour than it did his bulging muscles and bald head. I've done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others.

"In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more. Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices."

Photo credit: Lester Cohen - Getty Images

Kimmel expressed hopes that those who have watched him throughout his career have noticed an evolution in his style of comedy.

"I believe that I have evolved and matured over the last 20-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show," he said. "I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me. I love this country too much to allow that.

"I won't be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas."

Photo credit: Jeff Kravitz - Getty Images

Kimmel is currently taking a two-month hiatus from his ABC chat show over the summer.

His late-night competitor Jimmy Fallon also recently apologised for an "unquestionably offensive" sketch from Saturday Night Live that featured him performing in blackface as fellow comedian Chris Rock.

Digital Spy now has a newsletter – sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox.

Looking for more TV recommendations and discussion? Head over to our Facebook Group to see new picks every day, and chat with other readers about what they're watching right now.

You Might Also Like