The ripple effect of Shannon Sharpe’s viral Club Shay Shay interview with Katt Williams is continuing, becoming a skit on the latest episode of Saturday Night Live. Over the weekend, Shannon shared his thoughts on the spoof during a conversation with Chad Johnson which was shared on his YouTube channel, Nightcap, giving his thoughts on the skit.
"I can't believe Saturday Night Live fooled your boy, Ocho," he said. "The dude had a brown tracksuit on just like I had." Chad responded, pointing out that earning a skit on SNL is an indication of real fame, suggesting that an Oscars hosting gig might be next.
Chad isn’t wrong in correlating the unlocking of a new level of fame with being spoofed on SNL. But it’s also part of a larger evolution we’re seeing happen with Shannon. Because despite his extensive sports background, him venturing out into non-sports content and featuring non-athlete or sports-related guests is faring well for him and proving to be a huge hit with long-standing fans, while exposing him to an entirely different audience. So SNL’s decision to spoof his interview is just the cherry on top of the success he’s amassed with his podcast.
But besides the SNL skit, considering the interview aired in early January and it’s still such a topic of discussion, that’s one indication that it was really successful. The other indication are the metrics.
Two weeks after the interview aired, Club Shay Shay shared some of the numbers the interview did. There were over 266 million views across different platforms, 1.2 million audio downloads, 110,000 people tuned into the interview as it aired live, 909,000 new YouTube subscribers, and over 1 million new followers across TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and X. So what was it that made this interview the one to watch?
Katt said a lot during his talk with Shannon. But at its core, Katt came for people that came for him first. This was an interview about people in Hollywood he felt took a shortcut to success by plagiarizing their material and meeting the demands of people in power – and the fact that people, mainly the ones he spoke about, were so up in arms about his comments kind of suggests that maybe some of his claims were true.
He took shots at fellow comedian Steve Harvey, airing him out for claiming he’d been homeless at some point in his life, when it was, in fact, Katt who was unhoused. He criticized Steve for praising his current wife, Marjorie, and attributing much of his success to her, reminding us all that he said the same thing about his first wife.
He slammed Kevin Hart, who, back in 2018, made libel-worthy claims about Katt being unprofessional and high on drugs during an interview with The Breakfast Club. During his chat with Shannon, Katt suggested Kevin was an “industry plant” that allowed white Hollywood executives to dress him up and use him as an entertainment pawn, questioning why no one in Hollywood can recall ever going to see him at a stand-up comedy show (though Kevin was grinding at clubs like The Laugh Factory in the 2000s).
He also called out Faizon Love and Martin Lawrence, whom he recalled trying to get him to wear a dress in a film, which he objected to. He also mentioned Chris Tucker and Cedric the Entertainer, whom he accused of stealing his jokes.
As the interview was airing, it was becoming widely-discussed on X in real time. People who saw the discussion unfolding and weren’t tuned in definitely did. And with Katt’s particular remark about Cedric the Entertainer, people went digging. They were able to find clips of Katt performing the original joke and the one Cedric did a few years later. Most people were in agreement that Cedric stole the joke. He also blasted Joe Rogan, Kanye West, Diddy and Harvey Weinstein.
“They canceled me for talking about Harvey Weinstein before the thing came out. But he offered to suck my penis in front of all my people at my agency. What am I supposed to do? He did all of that,” he said during the interview.
But not everything he said was negative – and at one point he lent support to Taraji P. Henson after she expressed frustration over her earnings in Hollywood. So sure, there were outrageous claims. But outrageous doesn’t mean untrue.
Between online sleuths fact-checking his claims, his history of speaking out about predators like Harvey Weinstein and Diddy before the bombshell of the #MeToo movement and Cassie’s landmark lawsuit against Diddy, which I wrote about here, and people finding receipts that backed up his allegation that Cedric stole his joke to finding even more jokes that Cedric allegedly stole, it became more and more believable that Katt was speaking some truth – and certainly his truth.
Most recently, Dave Chappelle weighed in, reacting to the interview at an event put on by comedian DeRay Davis. Despite the event being phone-free, clips surfaced of Dave saying the following about Katt’s interview:
“What part of the game is this? He only ethered n-----. He didn’t say anything about any of these white boys. None of these white boys function like that,” he said. “Hurt people hurt people, but I am a hurt person that never hurt people, and he does it all the time: ‘F--- this one, and f--- that one, and f--- this one.'”
That’s very rich, coming from Dave Chappelle, whose last few Netflix specials have been about his anti-trans beliefs. To say he’s “never hurt people”, when in his last special, The Dreamer, he literally said at one point that he loves “punching down”. To criticize Katt Williams for calling out a bunch of very rich comedians, some with their own shows that make them millions of dollars a year, all while his schtick has become further endangering a marginalized group of people who face actual threats from politicians and bigots alike is hypocritical, to say the least.
Personally, I think Dave is pissed that Katt’s interview got the attention he hoped his special would have. But what more is there to say about him and his comedy? He’s telling the same jokes over and over, this time attacking people with disabilities. You hate trans people, and now you’re looking for new groups to punch down on. We get it. So the fact that weeks after Katt’s interview, it got more discussion than his special, which got horrible reviews like this one, makes me feel like he’s trying to piggyback off of the clout. Because he was one of the few comedians that was spared in the interview, and Katt actually praised him. And his response to the interview got more headlines than his entire special did. Having to compete with a Club Shay Shay interview must be humbling.
To be clear, Katt did mention a white comedian. He mentioned Gary Owen, praising him for never becoming a sellout. And you know what? Gary not only responded, accepting the compliment, but confirmed Katt’s remarks about surviving the sexual prowess of powerful Hollywood executives, revealing in this bit that he had in fact turned down a multi-million dollar offer for sex from a Hollywood exec.
Despite comments that Shannon made during and after the interview that suggest he may be taking sides, and kind of clowning Katt, I think he realizes just how much this interview elevated the Club Shay Shay brand. He made a genius decision to have him on in the first place, and he really did a great job of just letting Katt speak. People lauded this in the comments of the YouTube video, saying things like:
“Ser, I seriously love the fact that you asked the questions and then went silent and let KATT speak fully. This interview deserves a Webby, Emmy, Tony, Oscar, People's Choice, Nobel, BAFTA, and Pulitzer! Give these two ALL THE AWARDS. ALL OF THEM.”
So whether Katt is the laughing stock of SNL or comment sections still abuzz over his landmark revelations, the guy deserves a lot of credit. Because over the course of those two hours and 46 minutes, he, as one person put it, “singlehandedly restored our attention span”, uniting a huge cohort of people on social media as they watched the conversation unfold, gave us memes, rabbit holes to venture down, quotes, history lessons and most importantly, laughter. And that’s what a truly talented comedian does.