Dave Chappelle Hosts an Instant Classic ‘Saturday Night Live’

It’s as if he never left.

Dave Chappelle was probably the perfect host for a post-election Saturday Night Live. Comedians position themselves as observers of the culture at large, and sometimes are better than the best journalists at presenting a balanced look at events. Chappelle proved in his seminal Comedy Central show that he was a master at this, and he reminded viewers of SNL in his opening monologue. There was something for all sides in his hilarious and incisive set, and he was in classic form pushing at the walls of censorship as well, at one point saying, “Sorry, Lorne”—an acknowledgement he’d probably said something bleep-worthy, which might not please show producer Lorne Michaels.

The classic sketch comedy show has always been focused on political satire, and of course Chappelle’s episode was no different. However one of the night’s highlights may have been Chappelle taking on not only a few political issues but his own past as well. He starred in a digital short parodying The Walking Dead, titled “The Walking Dead Chappelle’s Show.” It recreated the grueling episode of AMC’s zombie drama in which new bad guy Negan chooses who dies at the end of his barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat—only this time the victims were classic characters from his own Chappelle’s Show. The end result was hysterically funny and almost sentimental, as well. Also, perhaps one of the best digital shorts of the season.

Chappelle and SNL standout Kate McKinnon anchored one of the stranger, funnier sketches of the night, “Last Call With Dave Chappelle.” In it a pair of gross barflies discovered each other at closing time, much to the dismay of barkeep Kenan Thompson. The sketch hinged on Thompson’s reactions to Chappelle and McKinnon making it weirder and weirder, and it worked. 

The main takeaway from Chappelle’s first SNL? Dave Chappelle should host every SNL