Given the daunting task of delivering the post-election opening monologue on Saturday Night Live, Dave Chappelle chose a tone atypical for his type of comedy: muted rather than devastating.
Chappelle appeared after a lackluster but serious cold that parodied the victory speech given by President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday night. The majority of the mainstream media finally declared Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election on Saturday afternoon after five days of seemingly endless vote counting.
While many viewers at home seemed to be expecting a night of scorching political comedy aimed at this busy election week, Chappelle’s monologue deviated from the acrid tone one might expect from the poignant, incomparable comic.
In a great suit and apparently smoking a cigarette on stage – in his defense, this was the kind of week a cast member of Chappelle’s stature could probably get away with smoking in front of a studio audience on an NBC stage – Chappelle’s set stopped on his Persistence firmly issues of the demand for racist double standards in the US.
Chappelle started the monologue with a conversation about his great-grandfather, whom a slave Chappelle mentioned earlier, particularly in his sober commentary on the death of George Floyd in 2020. But instead of using his great-grandfather’s story to begin a commentary on America’s many racial and social problems today, Chappelle turned into the unexpected and turned into a self-deprecating joke about his current Netflix and HBO specials that set the tone for the rest of the set – and arguably the rest of the show, the seemed determined to move towards the quiet, even apolitical end of the spectrum.
He was quick to remind viewers, however, that ousting Trump doesn’t mean the country is magically safer, despite the undisputed relief of Liberals. “They ask what life was like before Covid,” he noted. “A mass shooting every week. Can anyone remember it? Thank god for Covid. “
Chapelle has also dealt with the working class white Trump voter a couple of times – “I don’t know why poor whites don’t wear masks. What’s the problem? Wear masks at the Klan rally, and at Walmart too. “- as well as Trump himself, who pointed out that the president brought a helicopter to Walter Reed Hospital when he signed Covid-19, even though it was only a few blocks away.
He also argued that Trump’s selfishness pointed to bigger problems with how white Americans view views in times of crisis.
“Don’t you even want to wear your mask because it’s oppressive? Try to wear the mask I’ve been wearing all these years, ”he said. “You’re not ready for that. You don’t know how to survive yourself. Black people, we’re the only ones who know how to survive this. Whites are coming, hurry up, quick, get yours [n-word] Lessons. You need us You need our eyes to save yourself from yourself. “
But when Chappelle indulged in his typically astute humor, he delivered him with a style that felt atypically decoupled, which might explain why many of his jokes hit an ambivalent studio audience. “Trump got coronavirus when Freddie Mercury got AIDS,” he joked at one point. “Nobody was like, how did he get it?” True. But nobody laughed either. Chappelle also scolded the audience for being too awake, a subject he has worked on repeatedly, and ended his monologue by suggesting that one of the other “lessons” the presumably left-wing audience must learn from SNL is forgiveness and reconciliation is – certainly not an idea to which many people are receptive after a polarizing choice.
Despite the tension inherent in that message, Chappelle made it sound almost like neighborly advice that was more worn out than an admonition. “I know how that feels. I promise you I know how that feels, ”he said.
“Everyone knows how that feels. But here is the difference between me and you. You hate each other for it. And I don’t hate anyone. I just hate that feeling. That’s what I struggle through. I suggest you fight your way through. You have to find a way to live your life. I have to find a way to forgive each other. I have to find a way to find joy in your existence despite this feeling. “
Maybe not the message everyone wanted to hear at the end of this election week – and not necessarily the burn that many SNL viewers wanted. But maybe that was what we needed.
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