Quinta Brunson accepted her first Emmy award with a notable stage crasher right behind her.
Brunson won in the category of outstanding writing in a comedy series for her work on ABC's "Abbott Elementary," a show she created and stars in. Her show was a breakout TV success this year, racking up seven nominations in its first season, giving Sheryl Lee Ralph her first Emmy.
To present the category, co-presenter Will Arnett dragged Jimmy Kimmel onto the stage by his foot. Arnett told the audience Kimmel was playing dead in protest of losing the Variety Talk Series award for the 13th time. When Brunson took to the stage to claim her award, she had to step over Kimmel to get to the microphone. Kimmel stayed on the ground in silence for the duration of her speech.
"Jimmy, wake up I won," Brunson said at the start of her speech. "Jimmy" she asked, potentially wondering whether he was going to stay there. He did not respond.
"Ok, hold my phone," she said. He gave her a thumbs up in response. In her speech, Brunson thanked her business partner, mentor Larry Wilmore, the "Abbott Elementary," and of course her husband.
"I need to thank my wonderful husband because he’s the most supportive man I’ve ever known," she said.
Brunson then left the stage, as did Kimmel — he was dragged off.
Fans of the elementary school-set show that returns Sept. 21 for a second season characterized Kimmel's stunt as a poor joke that stole Brunson's moment.
"Highly disrespectful," one Twitter commentator said.
Another tweeted, "I just don’t understand why he was even there. Quinta gave him the chance to leave & he still just laid there."
Another person tweeted, "It was incredibly rude of him, especially when she had to STEP OVER HIM to get to the microphone. Very childish and disrespectful of Kimmel to steal some of Quinta’s light."
Making the same point, another tweet read, "how DARE he take away from her moment."
"I felt so bad for her," someone else tweeted. "Can’t believe he did that!"
The pair involved in the bit, however, did not have the same take as the swift online backlash.
Brunson addressed the joke in a post-Emmy press room of reporters Monday night.
“I know Jimmy Kimmel, and I don’t know, I feel like the bit didn’t bother me that much. I don’t know what the internet thinks,” Brunson said.
“Honestly, Jimmy gave me my first big late-night spot. He was one of the first people to see ‘Abbott Elementary.‘ He was the first person to message me on Instagram. He was so excited it was going to be on ABC. I was happy it was Jimmy. He’s one of the comedy godfathers. I’m a huge fan of Will Arnett, so I was wrapped up in the moment,” Brunson said.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Kimmel characterized his joke as a moment he was absent from.
“I had my eyes closed, I had no idea where I was. It was one of the weirdest things that’s ever happened to me,” Kimmel said jokingly.
Kimmel gave Brunson props for creating such a blockbuster show in just the first season.
“She is so unbelievably talented. And I saw her pilot before it came out on ABC, and I wrote to her, and I was like, ‘I don’t know how we got this, but congratulations. You made a pilot that any network would be ecstatic to get,’” Kimmel recalled, adding “She’s a lovely person as well.”
Kimmel was previously criticized for redirecting attention to himself from specifically Black entertainers during an awards show. In 2017, Kimmel hosted the 89th annual Oscars Award show, when "La La Land" was mistakenly awarded the Best Picture Award that "Moonlight" actually won.
While "La La Land" cast members were on stage trying to convince the audience they actually loss, Kimmel cracked a joke.
"I think you guys should keep it anyway ... I would like to see you get an Oscar anyway, why can't we just hand out a bunch of them," he said to "La La Land" and then to the audience, per a transcript of the evening from the Washington Post.
One Twitter user said at the time, "People must have forgotten when Jimmy Kimmel made a “joke” & suggested 'Moonlight' not get their Best Picture award & then Jimmy suggested Oscar participation trophies."
Brunson is a guest on Kimmel’s show Sept. 14 and said in the post-Emmy's interview, “Tomorrow, maybe I’ll be mad at him.”
“Maybe I’ll punch him. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”