Quinta Brunson brought the audience to its feet when she won her first Emmy – but at her feet during the moment was Jimmy Kimmel.
The late-night host pretended to be unconscious and stayed on the floor while Brunson accepted her award as part of an intended joke that ended up miffing some viewers.
Kimmel presented the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series with Will Arnett, who dragged Kimmel on stage and joked that Kimmel “got into the skinny margaritas” at the theatre’s bar after losing the Variety Talk Series award to John Oliver.
After the Abbott Elementary creator and star was announced as the winner, Kimmel stayed on the ground at the base of the microphone stand. He remained there throughout Brunson’s acceptance speech and into the commercial break, nearly two minutes in total.
Watch the video of Jimmy Kimmel being dragged off stage above.
Footage shared by a ceremony attendee showed that Arnett pulled Kimmel’s body offstage at the end of the segment.
Brunson, unfazed, used her limited time to thank the Abbott Elementary team, her family and her husband, but not without a dig at Kimmel: “Jimmy, wake up. I won!”
Kimmel remained out of the camera’s frame for the duration of Brunson’s speech, which lasted roughly one minute.
Later backstage, Brunson addressed the moment, saying the bit “didn’t bother me that much,” adding that Kimmel was an early supporter of her and Abbott Elementary.
“Tomorrow maybe I’ll be mad at him. I’m going to be on his show on Wednesday, so I might punch him in the face,” she joked.
It would be the final time Brunson would appear onstage Monday. Ted Lasso won over Abbott Elementary in the outstanding comedy category, its second win in as many years.
Though Brunson’s win was widely celebrated – Abbott Elementary is a massive hit, ABC’s most successful comedy in years – many viewers chided Kimmel for not ceding the spotlight, particularly to a Black woman accepting her first Emmy.
(Kimmel, meanwhile, has been nominated for 18 Emmys and won two since 2012.)
Plenty of people took to Twitter to voice their irritation at Kimmel’s act.
”If #QuintaBrunson stepping over #JimmyKimmel who literally laid in her spotlight on the day she won an Emmy isn’t a metaphor for what it means to be a WOC [Woman of Colour] in a white man’s world I don’t know what is,” one person tweeted.
Another person added: “Jimmy Kimmel owes Quinta an apology but the messed up part is every image of her accepting her award has his ass in it. White men really are insufferable.”
Sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen, who studies race in the entertainment industry, congratulated Brunson for Abbott Elementary, whose cast is primarily Black and takes place in an underfunded Philadelphia public school.
But she didn’t think much of Kimmel’s joke: “And presenter Jimmy Kimmel, get up, it’s unfunny and rude,” Yuen tweeted.
Ernest Owens, editor-at-large at Philadelphia Magazine, said he was irked by Kimmel, whom he said was “trying to take attention away” from Brunson’s win.