November 8, 2020 at 11:47 pm #3365
Dave Chappelle Gets Serious In ‘Saturday Night Live’ Post-Election Monologue
This weekend’s Saturday Night Live featured the inimitable Dave Chappelle as host, allowing the man 16 minutes to muse on the state of the nation, as Joe Biden was officially announced as the winner of the election, and Donald Trump, the hilariously sore loser.
At least it’s the end of Alec Baldwin’s stale Trump impression – one would be forgiven for wishing that SNL would simply allow Chappelle to take over the entire show and keep standing on that stage, chatting to the audience and smoking cigarettes. The man is a master of amusing introspection, delivering hard truths wrapped inside the colorful packaging of a joke.
He even said so himself, quipping: “I can’t even say something true unless I’ve got a punchline behind it.” Indeed, audiences were laughing at Chappelle’s skits on police brutality long before the BLM movement drew serious attention to the problem.
During his monologue, Chappelle reflected on the complicated issue of race in America, the path that led to the victory of Donald Trump, telling an anecdote about his great-grandfather who was born into slavery, comparing and contrasting his family history to his professional success (and subsequent exploitation).
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Of course, there were plenty of jokes about Trump’s bizarre and unprofessional behaviour during his time in office (nobody needs a comedian to highlight the sheer stupidity of the bleach incident), and pointing out the maddening hypocrisy of a man who received the finest medical treatment taxpayer money can buy, then confidently told voters not to worry about the pandemic.
“That’s some cold stuff. That would be like me going to the homeless shelter with a bag full of hamburgers and saying, ‘These is mine!’ And then just start eating in front of all the homeless. ‘Don’t let hunger dictate your life!'”
But Chappelle’s speech didn’t cross the line into gleeful triumph – he took the time to remind his audience that the country is still deeply, bitterly divided, that Trump’s defeat hasn’t solved the systemic problems that contributed to his popularity.
“Remember when I was here four years ago? Remember how bad that felt? Remember that half the country right now still feels that way. Please remember that,” he said. “Remember that for the first time in the history of America, the life expectancy of white people is dropping. Because of heroin, because of suicide. All these white people out there that feel that anguish, that pain… Let me tell you something. I know how that feels, I promise you – I know how that feels.”
Chappelle closed his monologue with a plea for the disenfranchised to come together, and stop retreating into bitter tribalism:
“You got to find a way to live your life. You got to find a way to forgive each other. Got to find a way to find joy in your existence in spite of that feeling.”
It was a monologue that, like the best of Chappelle’s bits, felt more like the musings of a philosopher than the performance of a comedian. After the intense, prolonged drama of the election, Chappelle’s speech was a reminder to move on, keep in good humor, and try to process the surreal horror of the last four years.
Not that Trump is going to disappear – I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hosting SNL the moment he leaves the White House.