SNL Host Dave Chappelle Gives White People a Valuable Trump Lesson
After promising to give Trump a “chance” four years ago, the comedian urged Biden voters to be “humble winners” on “Saturday Night Live.”
The comedian began by talking about his great-grandfather, who was born a slave in South Carolina. He told the emotional story of how he learned to read after being freed and became a leader at the AME church, but then things took a turn.
“I thought about him all day today because I wish I could see him now. And I wish he could see me. Because I wonder what he would say. This week, I flew to New York on a private jet. Netflix started streaming a show that bears his name, Chappelle’s Show. HBO Max is streaming it. And I didn’t get paid for any of it.”
Then came the punchline: “Yeah, if he could see me now he’d probably be like, ‘This thing got bought and sold more than I have.’”
The misdirection and subversion that has defined Chappelle’s comedy was present throughout his longer-than-usual monologue. In response to a friend in London who texted him that “the world feels like a safer place now that America has a new president,” he replied, “That’s great, but America doesn't.”
“You guys remember what life was like before COVID?” he asked the audience. “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.” And to the “poor white people” who don’t like wearing masks, he added, “What is the problem? You wear masks to the Klan rally, wear it to Walmart too!”
“You don’t even want to wear your mask because it’s oppressive? Try wearing the mask I’ve been wearing all these years!” Chappelle said. “I can’t even tell something true unless it has a punchline behind it. You guys aren’t ready. You’re not ready for this. You don’t know how to survive yourselves. In fact, we’re the only ones that know how to survive this. Whites come, hurry, quick, come get your n---a lessons.”
It was four years ago this week that Dave Chappelle, hosting SNL for the first time ever, shared this message with the world about Donald Trump’s shocking election victory: “I’m wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance. And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one too.”
The show seemed to be tempting fate by inviting the comedian back on to host the first episode after the 2020 election. The fact that the race wasn’t officially called for Joe Biden until Saturday morning made the moment even more significant.
“Now Trump is gone,” Chappelle said this week. “Now I know a lot of people don’t like him, but I thought the guy was at least an optimist. I am not as optimistic as he was. I look at it, there’s bad people on both sides.” When that line got nothing from the crowd, he shook his head and added, “Alright, I was just trying it out.”
“He called the coronavirus the kung flu!” he continued. “I said, you racist, hilarious son of a bitch! I’m supposed to say that, not you! It’s wrong when you say it.” Chappelle went on to mock Trump’s attempts to “guess” a cure for COVID-19. “Oh boy, Secret Service is going to have to childproof the White House now, he's going to try to drink the bleach! ‘Mr. President, don’t touch that stove, it’s hot.’”
When he then made a joke about women making less than men, the crowd groaned in response. “Did I trigger you?” he asked. “I’m sorry, Lorne, I thought we were having a comedy show. It’s like a woke meeting in here.”
“And you know what Trump did after all that stuff? Went out and got the coronavirus. Wasn’t that something?” Chappelle asked. “You know, when he got coronavirus, they said everything about it on the news. You know what they didn’t say? That it was hilarious. Trump getting coronavirus was like when Freddie Mercury got AIDS. Nobody was like, well, how did he get it?”
After pointing out how the president got the best treatment available for his coronavirus while letting an ally like Herman Cain die after attending one of his rallies. “Think about that! For four years, that’s your leader,” he said. “What kind of man does that? What kind of man makes sure he’s OK while his friends fight for their lives and die? A white man. And I don’t mean to put this on the whites, but I’ve been Black a long time and I’ve noticed a pattern.”
As his now infamous 2016 line about giving Trump a chance—inadvertently echoed in Biden’s victory speech earlier Saturday night—revealed, Chappelle’s politics have never been simple to characterize. His public criticism of Hillary Clinton in the final days of that election were bad enough that he had to later clarify that he was “not a Trump supporter.” His willingness to give Trump a “chance” followed him for months, at least until he told Stephen Colbert in 2017, “It’s not like I wanted to give him a chance that night.”
More recently, during an episode of David Letterman’s Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Chappelle answered a question about Trump’s Muslim ban by offering up what easily could be considered a both-sides take on the two presidential candidates.
“You don’t expect necessarily that empathy, compassion or cultural astuteness from a guy like that,” Chappelle, who converted to Islam in the early ‘90s, told Letterman. “What you’re sad about is that the chair doesn’t have more humanity in it. But has that chair ever been that humane? When Biden called Trump the first racist president ever, well clearly that’s not true. So how do I feel when I hear a white person say some stupid shit?”
As Letterman laughed, Chappelle answered his own question with a comical shrug.
“I would implore everybody who’s celebrating to remember, it’s good to be a humble winner,” Chappelle said on Saturday. “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.”
“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,” he continued. “All these white people out there that feel that anguish, that pain, that man, they think nobody cares. Maybe they don’t.”
“Let me tell you something: I know how that feels,” he added. “I promise you, I know how that feels. If you’re a police officer and every time you put your uniform on, you feel like you’ve got a target on your back, you’re appalled by the ingratitude that people have when you would risk your life to save them, believe me, I know how that feels.”
“But here’s the difference between me and you,” Chappelle said. “You guys hate each other for it. And I don’t hate anybody. I just hate that feeling. That’s what I fight through. That’s what I suggest you fight through. You’ve got to find a way to live your life. You’ve got to find a way to forgive each other. You’ve got to find a way to find joy in your existence in spite of that feeling. And if you can't do that…come get these n---a lessons.”
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