LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel Tuesday issued an apology for recently surfaced comedy sketches from the 1990s in which he dressed up in blackface.

Kimmel’s impersonation of former NBA star Karl Malone — which Kimmel performed on Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” in the 1990s — has received renewed attention and criticism over the past week in the wake of the George Floyd protests.

FILE — Jimmy Kimmel speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

Kimmel on Tuesday also admitted to performing celebrity impressions of several black stars, including Snoop Dogg and Oprah.

“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,” Kimmel wrote in his statement.

He said that delaying his response to the criticism was a mistake.

“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 wrote. 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.”

The protests have lead to a reckoning of sorts for the entertainment industry, forcing it to reexamine how it has mishandled issues of race.

This week, NBC pulled four episodes of Tina Fey’s popular comedy “30 Rock” from several streaming platforms because they contained blackface.

Earlier this month, HBO Max announced it was temporarily removing the 1939 movie “Gone with the Wind” from its library due to the films racist undertones.

Popular country music band Lady Antebellum also announced it was dropping the “Antebellum” from its name due to the word’s connotation to the slavery era.

Read Kimmel’s full statement below:

“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. 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.”

Comments (4)
  1. Ziggy says:

    Roseanne Barr was unavailable for comment or I’m SURE they would have asked her opinion.

    Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it!!

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