WASHINGTON – It started as a fun onstage throwaway line at the Emmy Awards and turned into an unexpected Sunday night flood of attention for the Washington DC public school system.
Comedian Dave Chappelle, a DC native and graduate of the District’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts, issued a “Shout out to DC public schools” before he started reading the teleprompter to give out an award.
But what tipped the issue over into a genuine Internet phenomenon later in the night was Last Week Tonight host John Oliver jumping into the fray. While accepting the award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series, Oliver–who is definitely not a DC native–encouraged viewers to stick the hashtag #DCPublicSchools onto all Emmy related tweets for the rest of the evening.
“It would be great if it started trending on Twitter for no reason whatsoever,” he said.
That’s exactly what happened.
The public school system responded on Twitter with good humour, addressing a string of smiley face emojis toward both Oliver and Chappelle. It also tried to use the unexpected wave to attention as a chance to get the good word out about the school system. One tweet from Sunday night included a link to the school system’s five-year plan and the message: “Hello, #Emmys friends! We’re a district on the rise, and we’re happy you’re here. Learn more about us.”