The “Saturday Night Live” performer proceeded to share vile jokes sent to him regarding not just Biles’s mental health but also how she said she was sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor accused of sexually abusing hundreds of girls and women. Nassar is in prison for up to 175 years for his crimes.
“I got like 3 mins of Simone Biles jokes in my head,” he wrote. “As the dorky kids say, I’m choosing violence.”
Che’s Instagram story, which has since been deleted but captured in screenshots posted to social media, sparked immediate backlash from critics who wanted to “vomit” over the comedian’s attempt to joke about Biles’s sexual abuse and mental health.
The comedian later claimed on Instagram that his account had been “hacked.”
“Can’t believe they got me,” Che wrote. “Y’all [know] I only do jokes about Whites and cops. [It’s] all good now, I changed my password and everything.”
Che’s manager did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday. Neither HBO Max, which airs his comedy series, nor NBC, the network that airs both the Olympics and SNL, responded to requests for comment.
The comedian’s social media posts come after the 24-year-old Biles, considered the face of USA Olympics at the Tokyo Games, pulled out of the team and individual all-around finals to prioritize her mental health. She later acknowledged that she was suffering from the “twisties” — when a gymnast loses control of their body as they spin through the air. Her decision has been celebrated by many and led Biles to realize, she wrote on Twitter, that she was “more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.”
But she has also been met by criticism from conservatives and right-wing media who’ve claimed that Biles, who has the most medals of any gymnast in international competition, was a “shame to the country.” Aaron Reitz, a deputy Texas attorney general, apologized Wednesday after calling Biles, a fellow Texan, “a national embarrassment.” Before his apology, Reitz had been chastised by his boss, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), for “a very inappropriate and insensitive tweet.”
On Instagram, Che, SNL’s co-head writer, posted how he wanted to perform his new material on Biles in front of an audience. As the Instagram story progressed, he shared a disturbing line sent to him by a fan about Nassar understanding Biles “better than anyone.”
“That’s rough,” wrote Che, who gave the joke a nine out of 10. “Absolutely tasteless.”
Che then shared another joke sent to him that poked at Biles’s mental health by using “Black don’t crack.” As The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart has noted, “Black don’t crack” is a favorite African American aphorism to explain why, generally speaking, Black people can look younger than they are.
“Now that’s a good joke,” Che said, scoring the line an eight out of 10. “Economical. Referential. Balanced. Good job.”
Critics were quick to voice their displeasure toward Che and the decision to post and rate jokes at Biles’s expense.
“Michael Che is trash,” tweeted director Matthew A. Cherry.
Others, like journalist Jessica Luther, noted their disgust over Che sharing the Nassar quip.
“Wow, that Nassar ‘joke’ that Michael Che gave a 9/10 on his Instagram story makes me want to … vomit,” she said.
The Post reported this week that federal prison officials have allowed Nassar to avoid paying financial penalties that are part of his sentence — even as he spent more than $10,000 from his Federal Bureau of Prisons account while behind bars, according to a new court filing. Court records show how Bureau of Prisons officials have required Nassar to pay only about $100 a year, or about $300 since he entered the federal prison system in late 2017 after pleading guilty to receiving and possessing child pornography.
Soraya Nadia McDonald, the culture critic for the Undefeated, said Che practiced in “hideous, violent misogynoir.” She tweeted that Che’s actions toward Biles made her “really, really sad” because the misogyny he showed to a Black woman was so “ubiquitous and loud.”
“How nice for Michael Che never to have been denied the sanctity of his own body because of his gender. How nice for him not to be judged and gaslit repeatedly because it is routine to treat an entire gender and their experiences with disregard and contempt,” McDonald wrote. “How lovely for him.”
It’s not the first time Che has come under fire. Multiple culture writers have documented how Che allegedly harassed them following their criticism of his work or SNL. During a “Weekend Update” segment in February, Che noted that Israel, which at the time had reported vaccinating half of its population against coronavirus, had only vaccinated its “Jewish half.” The line led Jewish organizations and Israeli leaders to accuse Che of leaning into “an antisemitic trope.” Others came to the comedian’s defense and even praised him for questioning Israel’s vaccination program.
When asked by fans on Instagram about the “twisties” and her decision to pull out of the events, Biles said Friday that “physical health is mental health.”
“For anyone saying I quit, I didn’t quit. My mind and body are simply not in sync,” she said. “I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first.”
Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.