Does Rob McElhenney act blackface because he’s a mediocre impersonator?

The cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia addressed a recent mistake when they joined the cast of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on Friday’s show. On Wednesday, the Philadelphia-based FX comedy released an…

Does Rob McElhenney act blackface because he’s a mediocre impersonator?

The cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia addressed a recent mistake when they joined the cast of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on Friday’s show. On Wednesday, the Philadelphia-based FX comedy released an all-new episode dubbed “A Day at the Show,” in which the Paddy’s Pub gang puts on their best impersonations of late Night Hosts Jimmy Fallon and Trevor Noah.

The constant refrain for all two episodes of “A Day at the Show” is the theme song from old Western movies. As Sara Haines and Jordan Klepper noted, it’s a callback to the night Rob McElhenney famously dressed up as Willy Wonka and danced around the set as young Charlie Bucket.

“I can’t believe that already happened,” star Glenn Howerton said, hinting that it could be the “most unfortunate celebrity Halloween costume since Jim Carrey as a large silver snake.”

It is worth noting that it was important to be clear that the two Fallon impersonations were done without blackface. The first time that the audience realized that there was some kind of problem happened when Howerton’s impression of “Clue” spooked Fallon so much that the new Tonight Show host was clearly visibly uncomfortable as he took his hand away from his mouth in protest.

What Fallon didn’t seem to realize, though, was that there was some sort of physicality involved. Howerton even put on a big bow-tie to impersonate his Tonight Show impersonation of Fallon in red, gold, and black and had to scramble to adjust the bow after too many times of getting it wrong.

Later in the episode, as Howerton attempted to perfect a noticeably more sensitive Fallon that he would then bring on the stage for dinner, his Fallon began to get rowdy, launching into some vocal taunts about these black people.

“All right, this is ridiculous. Let’s just take a minute,” the new Mayor of Philadelphia insisted.

The full scene went silent, even though Howerton couldn’t quite remember exactly what had started Fallon’s meltdown. It didn’t need to be explained.

But a similar incident wasn’t far away. “You’re talking to a foul-mouthed woman. ‘Just shut up already,’” Howerton’s spineless new Mayor Ashman of Philadelphia interjected. And Fallon and Howerton’s abashed attempt to smooth things over would not have reached the airwaves if the show’s executive producer, Rob McElhenney, had not put on a Hawaiian shirt.

“He was basically trying to bring out everything we learned in the eighth grade,” Howerton said. “We didn’t learn anything, it was all needless and stupid.”

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