Dave Chappelle's 'SNL' monologue addresses Kanye, Kyrie, antisemitism – AL.com
Controversial comedian Dave Chappelle in a file photo from 2018. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
After walking to the front of the Studio 8H stage, Dave Chappelle pulled a piece of paper from his black leather jacket’s left front pocket.
“Thank you very much for being here tonight,” Chappelle said, there to deliver his monologue as host of the Nov. 12 “Saturday Night Live.” “But before I start tonight, I just wanted to read a brief statement that I prepared: ‘I denounce antisemitism in all its forms, and I stand with my friends in the Jewish community.’” As Chappelle folded the paper and returned it to his pocket, he added, “And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time,” to big applause from the studio audience.
Chappelle was referring to the ongoing backlash facing rap superstar Kanye West. After West repeatedly made antisemitic claims, he’s lost lucrative deals with Adidas, Gap and Balenciaga, was dropped by his talent agency, had a documentary about him shelved and been banned from Instagram and Twitter.
Of course, Chappelle is no stranger to controversy. The longtime stand-up comedian, who rose to widespread fame in the early 2000s with his Comedy Central series “Chappelle’s Show,” has a history of making jokes at trans people’s expense, including during his Netflix stand-up comedy specials “Sticks and Stones,” from 2019, and “The Closer,” in 2021.
Although the streaming giant stood by Chappelle, Netflix employees, trans advocates, some fellow comedians and others have called for a boycott because of the controversy. During a performance at the Hollywood Bowl, Chappelle was attacked onstage by a knife-wielding audience member who said later he’d been triggered by Chappelle’s past comments. The Minneapolis venue First Avenue, featured in Prince’s musical drama film “Purple Rain,” canceled a Chappelle live performance.
This was Chappelle’s third time hosting “SNL,” which is filmed in New York. His previous appearances on the long-running sketch comedy show included November 2016 in the first “SNL” episode Donald Trump was elected president and in ‘20 after Joe Biden defeated Trump to become the next president.
This latest “SNL” episode was the first after the recent 2022 midterm elections. The New York Post claimed some “SNL” writers were boycotting the episode because of Chappelle. The comedian’s reps told CNN the boycott report was false.
During his 15 minutes or so monologue, which you can watch below, Chappelle allocated little time to midterms, beyond a few cracks on Georgia U.S. Senate candidate and college football legend Herschel Walker.
(Warning: Some readers might find some language in the below clip offensive.)
Chappelle, who resides in Ohio, also riffed on the appeal of Trump to smalltown middle America, saying Trump is an “honest liar.” Other monologue subjects included the surprising proficiency of Ukrainian soliders. He joked before the U.S. began sending them weapons, Ukrainian soldiers were killing Russian soldiers in their ongoing war by using “‘Home Alone’ traps”'
After his opening faux-statement/advice for West, Chappelle joked, “Early in my career, I learned there are two words you should never say together. Those words are ‘the’ and ‘Jews.’ Never heard someone do good after they said that.” But then not long after that in his monologue, he said “the Jews” multiple times in his own material.
Chappelle’s most controversial remarks during his Nov. 12 “SNL” monologue were about pro basketball star Kyrie Irving, embroiled in his own antisemitic controversy after Irving tweeted a link to a film containing antisemitic content and then repeatedly declining to apologize until he was suspended by his team, the Brooklyn Nets.
You could hear a pin drop in the “SNL” audience after Chappelle said, “I know the Jewish people have been through some terrible things all over the world. But you can’t blame that on Black Americans.” He also quipped Irving’s “Black a– was nowhere near the Holocaust.”
The musical guest on the Nov. 12 “SNL” was New York rap duo “Black Star.” They performed the songs “So Be It” and “The Main Thing Is To Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing,” with the rapper Madlib guesting. Iconic “gangsta rap” star and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” actor Ice-T appeared in a prerecorded sketch with Chappelle about Black characters for “House of the Dragon,” the much-hyped prequel to HBO’s popular “Game of Thrones” fantasy series.
“Saturday Night Live” is in its 48th season. Lorne Michaels, who created the series, remains an executive producer. The show’s launched the careers of a long list of comedy stars, including John Belushi, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Kate McKinnon and Pete Davidson. Current cast members include Colin Jost, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson and Michael Che. This year, “SNL” welcomed the show’s first out non-binary cast member, Molly Kearney.
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