Jimmy Kimmel Apologizes for Blackface Sketch, Insists Hiatus Has Nothing to Do With Controversy

The ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ host calls the sketch ’embarrassing’ but he refuses to be ‘bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.’

AceShowbizJimmy Kimmel has followed fellow U.S. late-night host Jimmy Fallon‘s lead and apologised for a blackface TV skit.

The comedian impersonated black basketball star Karl Malone on Comedy Central’s “The Man Show“, which aired from 1999 to 2003.

The “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host admitted he had been “reluctant” to address the sketch, explaining, “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.”

“That delay was a mistake,” Kimmel added in a statement. “There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.”

The funnyman went on to explain he often impersonated Malone on TV and radio, but “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 color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head.”

Kimmel continues, “I’ve done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem… 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.”

“I believe that I have evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show. 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.”

Kimmel’s apology comes after he announced plans to take the summer off to spend “even more time with my family.” He insists his vacation has nothing to do with the blackface drama, “My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well. I will be back to work in September. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”

“The Tonight Show” host Fallon previously apologised for a blackface sketch on “Saturday Night Live” 20 years ago, in which he impersonated comedian Chris Rock.

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