Donald Glover Immediately Makes Jokes About Chevy Chase's Racial Slurs During Rare On-Stage Appearance

Earn smiling in Atlanta
(Image credit: FX)

Update: The story below was adjusted to clarify Donald Glover was joking about Lena Dunham, and includes her official statement.

Despite being among the more celebrated and acclaimed creative minds in the world of entertainment, Donald Glover seemingly spends as much time avoiding the spotlight as performing in it. Ahead of the release of his next genre-morphing drama, Prime Video’s Swarm, the Atlanta creator stepped out of the metaphorical shadows and took the stage at this year’s WGA Awards to pay tribute to a fellow TV comedy mastermind, and just couldn’t stop himself from bringing up former Community co-star Chevy Chase’s use of racial slurs in the process.

Glover and Chase’s professional history together is as noteworthy as comedy-related feuds get, and it’s clear that the former hasn’t let offensive bygones be bygones in the years since they worked together. The part-time rapper presented the Writers Guild Awards’ honorary Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence to Atlanta EP and What We Do in the Shadows showrunner Paul Simms, and used the award’s namesake as a way to target Chase anew. (Sargent was the SNL writer credited for crafting “Weekend Update” for the Fletch star.) In Glover’s words:

Chevy Chase once called Herb one of the funniest writers working in television. Chevy Chase once called me... You know what? This is about Paul.

No stranger to the SNL stage himself — we’d love to see Glover back hosting as often as possible — the actor was making an only vaguely veiled reference to reports of Chevy Chase using racial slurs on the set of Community. Said behavior was widely reported on in 2012, with the elder actor apologizing for using said language directly in front of Glover and co-star Yvette Nicole Brown while complaining about his character Pierce. But according to Glover and Community creator Dan Harmon, the Christmas Vacation vet used racially charged language to get a rise out of his younger colleague and throw him off while filming scenes.

Community dealt with a slew of behind-the-scenes issues during its six-season stretch, from cancellations to showrunner changes to cast swaps, but Chevy Chase’s feuds with Donald Glover and Dan Harmon arguably remain the most memorable, in the worst of ways. And the Mystery Team star wasn’t keen on dropping just ONE Chase roast, as he followed that up while talking about working with Paul Simms during his guest stint on HBO’s Girls, saying: 

I was on the set of Girls after filming a sex scene for like eight hours, which they cut down to two minutes. I’ve never seen any of the rest of that footage. I asked Lena, ‘Hey, what made you decide to work with Paul?’ And she goes ‘Honestly, this n— lets me do whatever I want.’ And I remember thinking two things. One, Lena is using the N-word extremely liberally. Who does she think she is, Chevy Chase? And two, that’s the kind of producer I want.

Following the event, representatives for Lena Dunham released the statement below making it clear that Glover's comments did not reflect reality, and that the Girls creator did not say anything of the sort to her temporary co-star. 

Donald Glover told a joke referencing Lena Dunham for last night’s WGA Awards. It included, for effect, language Lena never used, nor would use.

A representative for Donald Glover also confirmed with the L.A. Times that the actor was 100% joking in bringing up Dunham's name in that scenario, and it never actually happened.

Generally speaking, it was also a bit odd for the Childish Gambino maestro to pivot away from honoring Paul Simms in full just to go after the SNL vet. And on the WGA stage, no less, as opposed to an event more known for off-the-cuff moments. I'd imagine if Glover was being presented with a similar honor, he'd be ticked off if the person setting it up referenced some personal ire. But then again, Simms may have given Glover the go ahead to bury Chase however he saw fit. However it went, known Chevy Chase shit-talker Pete Davidson likely chuckled if he heard about it. 

Check the video out below of Donald Glover's full presentation for Paul Simms. 

Community fans are currently in the still-feels-weird spot of anticipating the upcoming reunion movie for Netflix, which is 100% happening, though it's unclear whether or not Donald Glover, as co-created by Glover and Janine Nabershis own Spider-verse spinoff film tied to the Hypno-Hustler (which still seems like an April Fool's Day joke gone awry). I'd be any amount of money that he won't be sharing the screen with Chevy Chase in either of the above.

Fans should definitely be watching Paul Simms & Co.'s FX comedy What We Do in the Shadows with a Hulu subscription, and then get ready to binge Prime Video's new fame-focused dramedy Swarm, as co-created by Glover and Janine Nabors, when it debuts on Friday, March 17.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.