Jimmy Kimmel apologizes to Quinta Brunson for viral Emmys moment and its backlash

A woman in a gown holds an award and speaks into a microphone while a man in a tuxedo lies on the stage
“Abbott Elementary” star Quinta Brunson had her Emmys crowning moment crashed by Jimmy Kimmel.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Days after winning her first Emmy Award — and having her big moment seemingly spoiled by Jimmy Kimmel — Quinta Brunson showed restraint when she sat down on his show Tuesday night.

She did not, in fact, punch him in the face, as she told reporters she might do when they interviewed her backstage at the 74th Emmys on Monday night.

Rather, Brunson explained on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that she was “wrapped up in the moment and just having a good time” after winning her first Emmy for comedy writing. She said she hardly noticed Kimmel lying there on the Microsoft Theater stage, faux-drunk, where presenting partner Will Arnett had dragged him and dropped him.

“Jimmy, wake up, I won,” Brunson told him Monday night. But Kimmel stayed put.

Calling his passed-out presence at Brunson’s feet a “dumb comedy bit that we thought would be funny,” Kimmel apologized for staying in her spotlight.

“People got upset,” he said. “They said I stole your moment and maybe I did and I’m very sorry if I did do that. I’m sorry I did do that, actually.”

He continued, “the last thing I would ever want to do is upset you because I think so much of you and I, you know, I think you know that. I hope you know that I do.”


Brunson said it was “very kind” of Kimmel to say that.

“I was wrapped up in the moment and just having a good time,” she said. “I don’t know. I didn’t see any of that. I saw you and I saw Will Arnett and my Emmy and I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m having so much fun. ... Honestly, I had a good night. I had a great night. It was a good night. It was a good night and a great time.”

That echoed what Brunson told Variety in an article published Tuesday.

“I was totally in my own world and having a really beautiful moment that I will never forget or let be,” she said about Emmys night. “I also understand that as public figures, you exist for people’s own politics. I know that I exist for my own life. But when you become a public figure, you become something for people to talk about. So there’s nothing I can do.

“I understand how it looks to people. And if I was home, I probably would’ve been pissed if I saw that on TV, but my moment did not feel that way. I’m fine.”

So, no harm, no foul. No punch in the face.

Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘disrespectful’ joke at the Emmys backfired when he stayed onstage while Quinta Brunson accepted her first Emmy for ‘Abbott Elementary.’

Sept. 12, 2022

Brunson told the media backstage at Monday’s Emmys that the gag didn’t “bother me that much” and credited Kimmel for being an early champion of “Abbott Elementary.” But, Brunson quipped, “I’m going to be on his show on Wednesday, so I might punch him in the face.”

Twitter was far less entertained by Kimmel’s antics. One user called Kimmel crashing Brunson’s moment “extremely irritating,” and another said the joke was an “example of invasive white privilege.”


But the backlash spread well beyond social media.

Brunson’s “Abbott Elementary” co-star Sheryl Lee Ralph, who took home her own Emmy and delivered a powerful speech, said she was “absolutely confused.”

The Emmy winner expressed her discontent with the late-night host and said that Kimmel ‘understood.’

Sept. 14, 2022

“I didn’t know what was going on, but I was like, ‘I wish that man would just get up off the ground,’” Ralph said Wednesday during a panel for ABC’s Television Critics Assn. press tour. “Then I realized it was Jimmy Kimmel, and I was like, ‘Ooh, the disrespect, Jimmy.’”

Ralph added that she later approached Kimmel and “he understood” her frustration.

For what it’s worth, Ralph’s co-star Lisa Ann Walter said at the same panel that she “thought it played funny in the room” when Kimmel shared the stage with Brunson.

Times staff writer Dawn Burkes contributed to this report.