Adam Carolla defended his longtime friend and former “Man Show” co-host Jimmy Kimmel, who has faced new criticism for his history of performing in blackface.
“Jimmy Kimmel is in my top three all time of decent people I’ve met in my life. He’s the most decent person you’ve ever met. He’s the most generous person you’ve ever met,” Carolla said during a taping on Tuesday for his podcast, which will be released Wednesday. “He is amongst the best people I’ve ever met, and if everyone was like Jimmy Kimmel than we’d be living in a f—ing utopia.”
Carolla also attempted to draw a distinction between Kimmel and fellow late night host Jimmy Fallon doing impressions of famous Black people and the long-since abandoned practice of white performers donning black makeup to perpetuate racial stereotypes.
“Blackface is something,” Carolla said. “Doing Karl Malone is something else. Or doing Oprah is something else… or Jimmy Fallon doing Chris Rock. That is not Blackface.” The conversation, which you can watch above, was recorded for Carolla’s podcast on Wednesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Kimmel addressed his history of performing in blackface, calling the clips “embarrassing” in hindsight.
“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,” he said.
Kimmel has faced repeated criticism over the years for a recurring bit in which he impersonated NBA player Karl Malone, using makeup to darken his skin. During the run of “The Man Show,” which concluded in 2004, Kimmel also donned blackface to impersonate Oprah Winfrey.
Kimmel’s statement also referenced his conservative critics, saying that the resurfaced clips have been repeatedly used against him in an attempt to silence his criticism of “their oppressive and genuinely racist agenda.”
“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,” Kimmel 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.”
The statement comes as Kimmel is beginning a three-month break from “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” for the summer. The host clarified it had been planned for more than a year and is not related to the renewed controversy. “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” will resume airing new episodes next month featuring a roster of guest hosts filling in. Kimmel will return to the show in September.