Election 2020 appears to be all over now but the shouting. Dave Chappelle returned to host Saturday Night Live on November 7th to give everyone a chance to laugh and think—and being Chappelle, he didn't pull any punches with his jokes.
Clad in a suit and bright white kicks, Chappelle, who also hosted SNL the week Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, hit the stage at 30 Rock smoking a cigarette with a little gray in his beard and a lot on his mind.
He couldn't help but go right after the elephant in the room—former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. winning Pennsylvania and grabbing enough electoral votes to be declared the next president of the United States.
Chappelle admitted he thought it was a "pretty incredible day" then launched into his monologue, which was a characteristic combination of thoughtful and politically-tinged and uncompromisingly blunt. Some selected portions below:
- "Pretty amazing story of my great grandfather. I thought about him all day today because I wish I could see him now. I wish he could see me. Because I wonder what he would say. This week I flew to New York on a private jet to host the Night Live. Netflix started streaming a show that bears his name, The Chappelle Show. HBO Max is streaming it. And I didn’t get paid for any of it. ...Yeah, if he could see me now he’d probably be like, 'this nigga got bought and sold more than I have.'"
- "...Do you guys remember what life was like before Covid? I do. There was a mass shooting every week. Anyone remember that? Thank god for Covid. Someone had to lock these murderous whites up, keep them in the house."
- "...Don’t even want to wear your mask because it’s oppressive… try wearing the mask I been wearing all these years! I can’t even tell something true unless it has a punchline behind it."
- "...This is my plan. It’s called the kindness conspiracy. Random acts of kindness for black people. Do something nice for a black person. Just because they’re black. You got to make sure they don’t deserve it. ... It’s very important part of it, they can’t deserve it. The same way all them years they did terrible things to black people just because they’re black. And they didn’t deserve it. You driving through the hood one day, you see a black dude standing on the corner, selling crack, destroying his community? Buy him an ice cream… just buy him an ice cream. He’ll be suspicious… but he’ll take it."
In a way it was classic Chappelle—he was pushing current comedy boundaries and knew it and seemed to enjoy that aspect of his own act, at one point addressing SNL producer Lorne Michaels: "I'm sorry, Lorne, I thought we were having a comedy show. It’s like a woke meeting in here."
The rest of the episode was relatively tame, considering, though the venerable "Weekend Update" sketch was distinguished by a whiskey-sipping Michael Che who at one point got huge laughs simply by removing his tie and saying, "Hey Colin, did you know my tie is a clip-on?"
In a way, both Chappelle and Che were speaking for many viewers by loosening up and having a laugh even when the underlying subject matter—the election, COVID, and politics in general in the US—was on the heavy side.
Life is serious, sure, but it's okay to joke again.