No, Lena Dunham Did Not Use The N-Word in Front of Donald Glover — That Was Chevy Chase

Glover’s speech about industry icon Paul Simms was punchy — but not in an Oscars way
No, Lena Dunham Did Not Use The N-Word in Front of Donald Glover — That Was Chevy Chase

Donald Glover has officially followed Chris Rock with a recent entry in the annual “jokes at award shows going uncomfortably wrong” tradition.

At this past Sunday’s ceremony for the Writers Guild of America Awards, Glover presented his colleague and industry icon Paul Simms with the honorary Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence. Considering Glover’s love of creating comedy that makes stiff white people squirm, it came as no surprise that his speech in front of the esteemed audience contained a couple off-color jokes regarding a certain slur and its supposed use by a couple controversial comedy figures.

Glover made a joke involving a certain former castmate as well as Girls creator Lena Dunham, who has also worked with Simms, saying, “I asked Lena, ‘Hey, what made you decide to work with Paul?’ She goes, ‘Honestly, this n---- let’s me do whatever I want.’ I remember thinking two things: One, Lena is using the N-word extremely liberal with me. Who does she think she is, Chevy Chase? And two, that’s the kind of producer I want.” 

In the days since the ceremony, media outlets have been blasting headlines to the tune of “Lena Dunham Denies Using The N-Word On Donald Glover,” prompting Glover and his representatives to vehemently remind those reporters of the definition of the word “joke.” Dunham did not, in fact, call Caucasian producer and writer Simms the N-word in front of Glover – the Community star was just trying to punch up a speech at an awards show with some playful shock humor. 

Chase, on the other hand, was infamously loose with that word on the set of Community, and some sources from inside the show’s production have claimed that Chase was fired from the show for one such instance of “insensitivity.” Earlier in that same speech, Glover made a slightly less direct jab at Chase’s choice of words when discussing the namesake of Simms’ award. Herb Sargent was a longtime writer on Saturday Night Live who co-created “Weekend Update” with Chase, which Glover addressed by quipping, “Chevy Chase once called Herb one of the funniest writers working in television. And Chevy Chase once called me – you know what? This is about Paul.”

Sadly, Glover’s jokes have been misconstrued to the point of entirely obfuscating the praise he was attempting to give to his producer and friend Simms. In addition to his work with both Glover and Dunham on Atlanta and Girls respectively, Simms created NewsRadio and has served as a writer and executive producer on such iconic pieces of comedy history as The Larry Sanders Show, Late Night with David Letterman, Flight of the Conchords and, most recently, What We Do in the Shadows – plus, he presumably doesn’t use the N-word nearly as much as Chevy Chase.

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