Fans of the beloved NBC series Community are familiar with the show’s backstage drama centered on former disgruntled star Chevy Chase. In 2012, the comedy icon was forced to issue an apology after he dropped the n-word during an argument with series creator/writer Dan Harmon, an incident that caused a halt in production. Donald Glover, who played Troy Barnes on Community for five seasons, has now shared more about his racist interactions with Chase in a new in-depth profile for The New Yorker.
According to the story, Chase would often make racist jokes between takes and tried to spoil scenes. He apparently once told Glover that, “People think you’re funnier because you’re black.” The quote is indicative of a larger resentment Chase held for Glover, despite admitting he was a great talent.
“Chevy was the first to realize how immensely gifted Donald was, and the way he expressed his jealousy was to try to throw Donald off,” said Harmon. “I remember apologizing to Donald after a particularly rough night of Chevy’s non-P.C. verbiage, and Donald said, ‘I don’t even worry about it.’”
Speaking to The New Yorker about his time on Community, Glover said he viewed Chase as a legend who refused to recognize he was at the nadir of his career. “I just saw Chevy as fighting time — a true artist has to be O.K. with his reign being over,” Glover said. “I can’t help him if he’s thrashing in the water. But I know there’s a human in there somewhere—he’s almost too human.”
Responding to inquires for the feature, Chase said simply, “I am saddened to hear that Donald perceived me in that light.”
The New Yorker profile provides a riveting look into how Glover views race in the context of both his career and the entertainment industry, as well as culture as a whole. At one point, he said he wondered if his getting hired as a writer on 30 Rock had anything to do with race. Tina Fey, the creator and star of 30 Rock, said that while Glover’s talent impressed her, she hired him largely because funds from NBC’s Diversity Initiative “made him free.”
It’s a highly engrossing read that digs deep into the mindset of one of entertainment’s most fascinating and creative virtuosos, so check out the entire story here.