Way to make it about you, Jimmy Kimmel.
During Monday’s Emmys telecast, Abbott Elementary creator/star Quinta Brunson took home the trophy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. When Brunson stepped on stage to accept her award, Kimmel — who’d lain on the floor for several minutes, pretending to be comatose as part of a bit with co-presenter Will Arnett — didn’t move. “Jimmy, wake up. I won!” said Brunson, gingerly stepping around him. And when Kimmel didn’t move, she played along, placing her phone on his chest and telling him to hold it. (Press PLAY on the video below to watch the whole thing.)
Kimmel then stayed on the floor throughout Brunson’s speech, right until she was played off and the show moved on to its next segment. And though Brunson handled the whole thing with an admirable sense of grace, I’m irked in the extreme. What in the Kanye West was going on in Kimmel’s brain? Why didn’t he just stand up and step to the side rather than mess with what was undeniably one of Brunson’s biggest career highlights so far?
When asked about it afterward, the Emmy winner was far more magnanimous than I might’ve been. “I felt like the bit didn’t bother me that much,” Brunson told members of the press, adding that Kimmel gave her her first late-night spot and was an early supporter of her ABC comedy. “So in that moment, I was just really happy that it was Jimmy up there!”
I’m feeling decidedly less charitable to the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host. C’mon, man: If nothing else, think about the optics. You’re a man infringing on a woman’s achievement! Even worse, you’re a white guy pulling much-deserved focus from a Black woman.
On the whole, Kimmel comes off as a good egg who advocates for good things and who has, in the past, recognized and made amends when choices he made in the name of comedy went too far. So I’m hoping very strongly that he’ll publicly offer Brunson a heartfelt apology, and soon.
As it turns out, he’s got the perfect opportunity: She’ll be a guest on his late-night talk show on Wednesday. “I might punch him in the face,” she joked to reporters of the upcoming visit. “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”