Whitney Cummings found herself in trouble with the human resources department of a television show after she wished the staff a “Merry Christmas.”
Cummings shared this with Conan O’Brien on a recent episode of his show, Conan. The 37-year-old told O’Brien that the holiday season has become particularly stressful for her, partly because of the “terminology around all of it.”
She said, “Last year, I was working on a TV show [and I] got in trouble with human resources for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to an intern. I was leaving, like on the 18th … and I was like, ‘Bye, guys. Merry Christmas.’ Like just a formality, what you would say.”
She left, and didn’t think anything of it. However, she was about to find out that she had made an unacceptable mistake. “I come back, like, June 6. HR calls me and they’re like, ‘Hey, we need to talk to you. One of the interns is pissed off that you said Merry Christmas,’” Cummings continued.
The comedian decided to defend her intentions. “By the way, I was like, ‘I don’t even care how your Christmas was. It was just a formality. Like, that’s what you say when you leave,’” she stated.
56-year-old O’Brien told Cummings; “In these times we’re in, that could trigger someone or offend them if it’s not their holiday.”
She continued; “That’s what I said, I was like, ‘Well, what should I have said? Do they celebrate something else?’ And they were like, ‘Well, no, they’re agnostic.’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. You do not get to do that.’”
Cummings stated that a more intimate relationship would have to be present for her to know what a person’s religious belief was. However, in this case, she only had a professional relationship with the individual who was offended.
She said, “Had I known that this person was agnostic, that would mean we were in a relationship, like, that would mean we were intimately connected. I should not know who believes in God and who doesn’t. I also can’t guess either, you know? I can’t, like, guess your holiday based on what you look like. That’s offensive ― that’s very offensive.”
Cummings responded to a news report about her story, tweeting: “I’ve been told the safest thing to say is ‘have a good holiday’ then to set yourself on fire.”
While she never revealed the name of the show on Conan, Cummings was working on an ABC reboot of Roseanne as an executive producer in 2018. She also made appearances on Adam Ruins Everything and Crashing.