Michael Che tried to right several decades-worth of Hollywood wrongs by handing out “Reparations Emmys” to overlooked black actors and actresses during the 2018 Emmy Awards.
The pre-taped bit opened with Che presenting an actual Emmy trophy to The Jeffersons‘ Marla Gibbs. “Your role as Florence the maid is the reason I got fired form every service job I had,” Che said, prompting Gibbs to deadpan, “Well thank you – I think.”
Other recipients included Jimmie Walker of Good Times, Kadeem Hardison of A Different World, Jaleel White of Family Matters and Tichina Arnold of Martin and Everybody Hates Chris. After Arnold asked Che if the Television Academy just gave him the trophy, Che slyly replied, “Let’s just say I ‘stole it’ from ‘Bill Cosby.'”
The bit also featured Che chatting with Superior Donuts star Jermaine Fowler about how no actor from The Wire ever received an Emmy, while Bryan Cranston took home six for Breaking Bad. “If he was black, he’d probably be bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s,” Fowler cracked, after which the camera panned over to capture a mortified Cranston in the background.
Che handed out his last “Reparations Emmy” to legendary actor John Witherspoon. Witherspoon, however, was unimpressed with the award, noting it was for a performance he didn’t give on the 1968 TV show, I Spy (another sly Cosby barb). “I can’t have this at my house,” Witherspoon said. “Reparations is not for an Emmy, it’s for 40 acres and a mule.”
“Well I don’t have 40 acres and a mule,” Che responded. “Well get me 40 mules and an acre,” Witherspoon fired back. “I’ll take that.”