Dave Chappelle addressed several controversial issues in his latest Saturday Night Live monologue, mostly focusing on Kanye West’s recent anti-Semitic remarks.
In a lengthy stand-up set, Chappelle checked the names of former President Donald Trump and Senate nominee Herschel Walker — and possibly also alluded to the negative reaction to jokes he’s made about transgender people.
Before beginning his routine, he unfolded a small sheet of paper and read from it: “‘I condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms. And I stand with my friends in the Jewish community.’ And with that, Kanye, you buy yourself some time.”
On the subject of West, Chappelle said he usually reached out to the rapper when West was involved in a controversy — but this time, Chappelle said, he waited to observe the reaction to West’s anti-Semitic remarks. Chappelle also joked that “Kanye got in so much trouble, Kyrie got in trouble,” referring to the NBA star, who was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets for comments after sharing a link to an anti-Semitic film on social media had shared.
Chappelle said he could see West “taking on the illusion that the Jews are in show business,” saying it’s “not crazy to think — but it’s crazy to say it out loud in a climate like this.”
He continued, “I know that the Jewish people around the world have been through terrible things, but you can’t blame black Americans for it. You just can’t.”
In an apparent nod to the backlash some comics receive when audiences find their jokes offensive, Chappelle ended the monologue by admitting to the audience that he no longer enjoyed performing in front of large crowds, saying, “It shouldn’t be so scary to talk about anything, it makes my job incredibly difficult.”
“I hope they don’t take anything away from me,” he said. “Whoever they are.”
Chappelle has made explicit jokes about trans women’s bodies and misgendered trans people in several stand-up specials released in recent years. Criticism of his comments quickly mounted in 2021 following the release of his multi-million dollar Netflix special, The Closer, which offended LGBTQ advocates and prompted some Netflix employees to protest the company and call for the special to be removed.
Netflix stood by the special, which was later nominated for two Emmys. Chappelle addressed the criticism on the tour shortly after the release of his special, telling his audience he was willing to speak to trans critics but “not to bow to anyone’s demands.”