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Jimmy Fallon’s Ups and Downs Over the Years: Blackface Skit, ‘Tonight Show’ Allegations and More

Jimmy Fallon-s Ups and Downs Over the Years
Jimmy Fallon.Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Jimmy Fallon has had a long career as a comedian and talk show host — but not without controversy.

Fallon began his career on Saturday Night Live from 1998 to 2004 before landing his own talk show titled Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in 2009. The series lasted until 2013 when it was announced that Fallon would take over as the host of The Tonight Show.

More than a decade into his run at The Tonight Show, Fallon was under fire when Rolling Stone published a report featuring 16 anonymous past and present employees claiming that Fallon created a “nightmare” workplace on The Tonight Show.

“It’s a bummer because it was my dream job,” one former employee told the outlet in September. “Writing for late night [television] is a lot of people’s dream jobs, and they’re coming into this and it becomes a nightmare very quickly. It’s sad that it’s like that, especially knowing it doesn’t have to be that way.”

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NBC responded to the story via a statement at the time: “We are incredibly proud of The Tonight Show, and providing a respectful working environment is a top priority. As in any workplace, we have had employees raise issues; those have been investigated and action has been taken where appropriate. As is always the case, we encourage employees who feel they have experienced or observed behavior inconsistent with our policies to report their concerns so that we may address them accordingly.”

Jimmy Fallon-s Ups and Downs Over the Years
Jimmy Fallon. Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Keep scrolling to see more of Fallon’s ups and downs throughout the years:


Fallon joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and appeared as the coanchor of Weekend Update beside Tina Fey until 2004.


The comedian left SNL to pursue a film career and starred in several flicks including 2004’s Taxi and 2005’s Fever Pitch.


Fallon tied the knot with wife Nancy Juvonen, a film producer and longtime friend of Drew Barrymore. The twosome welcomed daughters Winnie and Frances in 2013 and 2014, respectively.


The show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon ran from 2009 to 2013 and quickly became a popular success. The series garnered two Emmy Award nominations.

Jimmy Fallon-s Ups and Downs Over the Years
Jimmy Fallon. Gerardo Mora/Getty Images


Fallon succeeded Jay Leno and became the sixth permanent host of The Tonight Show.


Fallon received harsh criticism for the way he handled his interview with Donald Trump. Viewers said that the talk show host was too light and playful and didn’t ask him any hard questions about the election.

“It was definitely a down time,” Fallon recalled in June 2018 on an episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s “Award Chatter” podcast. “And it’s tough for morale. There’s 300 people that work here, and so when people are taking that bad about you and gaming up on you, in a really gang mentality … You go, ‘Alright, we get it. I heard you. You made me feel bad. So now what? Are you happy? I’m depressed. Do you want to push me more? What do you want me to do? You want me to kill myself? What would make you happy? Get over it.’ I’m sorry. I don’t want to make anyone angry — I never do and I never will. It’s all in the fun of the show. I made a mistake. I’m sorry if I made anyone mad. And, looking back, I would do it differently.”

Following his confession, Trump took to social media to blast the comedian.

“@jimmyfallon is now whimpering to all that he did the famous ‘hair show’ with me (where he seriously messed up my hair), & that he would have now done it differently because it is said to have ‘humanized’ me,” Trump tweeted in June 2018. “He is taking heat. He called & said ‘monster ratings.’ Be a man Jimmy!”

Fallon responded by tweeting that he would be “making a donation to RAICES in the President’s name.”

Jimmy Fallon-s Ups and Downs Over the Years
Jimmy Fallon. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images


In October, a New York Post report claimed that NBC executives were worried that Fallon’s drinking was spiraling “out of control,” citing his two previous hand injuries and a chipped tooth. Fallon denied the accusations.

“I could never do a day-to-day job if I was drinking every night,” Fallon told The New York Times that May. “That’s just kicking you when you’re down.”


Fallon once again came under fire when an SNL skit of him in blackface resurfaced on social media in May. He took to social media to apologize for his actions.

“In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface,” Fallon tweeted at the time. “There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”


In August, Fallon, Lorne Michaels and Tracy Morgan were named in a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against Horatio Sanz, with the plaintiff claiming that Fallon, Michaels and Morgan enabled Sanz’s inappropriate behavior.

Sanz settled with the accuser in November and the lawsuit was dismissed.


In September, current and former Tonight Show employees spoke out about Fallon’s erratic behavior on set, claiming to Rolling Stone he is known for having “outbursts.” According to the employees, it was common to hear colleagues joking about killing themselves due to the toxic workplace environment.

“You never knew which Jimmy we were going to get and when he was going to throw a hissy fit,” a former staffer told the outlet in an interview. “Look how many showrunners went so quickly. We knew they didn’t last long.”

Hours after the article came out, Fallon reportedly apologized to the staff members.

“It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad,” he told personnel via Zoom according to Rolling Stone. “Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends … I feel so bad I can’t even tell you. I want the show to be fun, [it] should be inclusive to everybody. It should be the best show.”

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