Jimmy Kimmel has apologized for impersonating NBA star Karl Malone in a sketch from The Man Show. The sketch originally aired in the 90s but has been brought to light as of late. While not specifically addressed in the apology, Kimmel has also come under fire for using the N-word multiple times on a comedy Christmas album titled A Family Christmas in Your A**. Kimmel is said to have impersonated Snoop Dogg and comedian George Wallace on the album.
It was recently revealed that the late night talk show host would be taking a break from hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live! for the summer to take a vacation with his family. The decision was criticized, as Kimmel has failed to address the controversy up until now. Kimmel also said in his apology that the vacation had been planned for some time and had nothing to do with recent events. Here's what he had to say.
"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. That delay was a mistake. 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. 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 color 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."
In the years since the sketch aired on The Man Show, Karl Malone has been a frequent guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live in a recurring "All Alone with Karl Malone" segment. As referenced in his apology, there were several instances of Kimmel using blackface in sketches to impersonate celebrities. Kimmel, speaking further, expressed embarrassment for his past work, while also explaining that he will be taking the next two summers off as well.
"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. 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. Sincerely, Jimmy Kimmel."
A recently uncovered song titled Christmastime in LBC that was a product of the Kevin & Bean radio show has field controversy surrounding Jimmy Kimmel as of late. The song was released in 1996 and features Kimmel impersonating Snoop Dogg, rapping lines like Fat n**** in a sleigh giving s*** away." Kimmel had previously hinted at the song's existence during a podcast interview with his former Man Show co-host in 2013. Kimmel was asked if he only impersonates black people, and Kimmel jokingly replied with the following.
"I prefer them, yes."
Jimmy Kimmel was recently announced as the host of the 2020 Emmys. The awards show does not yet have a date set and it remains to be seen if the controversy will have any effect on his status as host or producer of the awards show. Kimmel has served as host of Jimmy Kimmel Live for 17 seasons since the show's debut in 2003. You can check out the full statement from Yashar Ali's Twitter.