In a post on his Instagram story Thursday, the Saturday Night Live head writer expressed his desire to “make fun of Simone Biles.” In the next post, he wrote: “I got like 3 mins of Simone Biles jokes in my head. I’m going to the cellar tonight to say them into a microphone. As the dorky kids say, I’m choosing violence.” Che then reposted a number of screenshots from his followers who made their own jokes about Biles, which he rated out of 10.
“Larry Nassar understands Simone Biles better than anyone. He too had to quit doing what he loved at the pinnacle of his career because of mounting pressure,” One follower wrote. Che replied, “Goddamn, that’s rough. absolutely tasteless. 9/10.”
For context, Biles came forward in 2018 about being sexually abused by Nasser, the disgraced former doctor for the U.S. women’s national gymnastics team. Biles also spoke openly about dealing with depression following the abuse. In 2018, Nasser was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault. Nasser was a prolific, odious abuser, who during his time at USA Gymnastics, assaulted hundreds of female athletes — many of them minors at the time. The fact that Che chose to callously “joke” about this abuse is just one sign of his clear disdain for Black women and his inability to create comedy without punching down on vulnerable people.
After facing immense backlash on social media for the comments, Che attempted to backtrack by claiming his Instagram account had been hacked. “Maaannnn, I got hacked today. Can’t believe they got me,” he wrote. “Y’all kno [sic] I only do jokes about whites and cops. S’all good now, I changed my password and everything… Anyway, y’all hear about DaBaby tho..? See y’all at church. Imma get there early.”
Black women have long complained about Che’s history of misogynistic, transphobic and downright vile commentary, which he spouts under the guise of comedy. In one 2019 SNL segment, Che took aim at a woman who had given birth at the age of 67. “Like, at first I was gonna say, ‘Well I hope that kid likes his milk chalky!’ But they said, ‘You can’t say that on TV.’ It was my second favourite punchline!” Che said. “My first favourite [was] ‘She can breastfeed just by standing over the crib? That’s a good one, right? Nope, NBC said, ‘Too gross,’ which is ridiculous.”
Che has always received backlash for his comments, and his usual response to critics over the years has been to either double down on his points, or lash out at the people who try to call him out, particularly if they are women. In 2018, Daily Beast reporter Samantha Allen wrote an article about several comedians (including Che) who had made transphobic jokes about Caitlyn Jenner. Che responded to Allen directly through his Instagram story, and also directed his fans to harass her via email.
“I cant [sic] just let this slide,” he wrote. “I have to tell this writer just how much I despise their work. I know it won’t mean much but it will make me FEEL GOOD.” He then posted a screenshot including Allen’s email address, along with a draft of the angry note he intended to send to her.
Che also has a history of going after Black women in particular, like he did with Teen Vogue columnist Jenn M. Jackson, when she tweeted a criticism of SNL related to Che’s Black Jeopardy sketch back in 2014. Jackson didn’t tag Che, but he found her tweets nonetheless and responded to her directly, telling her to “get a life,” and calling her efforts to raise awareness about the treatment of Black people on the show “adorable.” “The way that Michael Che in particular goes after certain writers, [and] I do think I’m certain that I don’t see him going after men in the same way, I do think is a way to bully people on the internet,” Jackson told Jezebel.
And despite all of the controversy surrounding him, Che has faced zero professional repercussions, and continues to secure gigs with major networks like NBC and HBOMax, the latter being the home of his latest project, a sketch show called That Damn Michael Che.
On Thursday night, Che deleted all the posts on his instagram page, seemingly due to the fallout from this latest incident. But judging from the posts on his story early Friday afternoon, the comedian is still clearly unremorseful. “They call what you’re doing “Damage control”” one follower said, referring to the deleted posts. Che’s response? “I’m a goddam [sic] martyr.”
We have reached out to HBO and NBC for comment and will update the story with their response.