Comedian Dave Chappelle’s “shout-out to D.C. public schools” during Sunday’s Emmys telecast on CBS went viral and prompted debate and analysis in Washington.
Chappelle and fellow comic Melissa McCarthy took the stage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles to present an award when Chappelle said, “Now, I’m going to read this teleprompter. Please forgive me. Shout-out to D.C. public schools.”
Chappelle is a 1991 graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public high school in the District of Columbia system that just reopened following a $171 million renovation.
Later in the three-hour Emmys show, HBO talk-show host John Oliver, who attended schools in his native England, jokingly repeated the reference when he accepted an award. “Like Dave Chapelle, I would like to unexpectedly thank D.C. public schools because I think it’d be great if it starting trending on Twitter for no reason tonight whatsoever,” Oliver said.
It did, starting with the Twitter account of the school system, @dcpublicschools.
— DC Public Schools (@dcpublicschools) September 18, 2017
Some viewers interpreted Chappelle’s message as a dig. “Geniuses @dcpublicschools, you do realize #DaveChappelle was shouting out 2u because he couldn’t read the teleprompter?” said one.
WRC-TV, the NBC station known as NewsChannel 4 in Washington, did a video report on the Emmy mention. (It’s embedded below despite the imperfect dimensions.) The station also did a web story headlined, “A Look at DCPS’ Performance After Dave Chappelle’s Emmy Joke.” (The upshot: “The latest data shows that students are making significant gains on standardized tests but still falling short of national averages,” the story says.)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.