On the first Saturday Night Live episode after each of the past two presidential elections, Dave Chappelle served as host and took the opportunity to share his thoughts on the state of American politics. The comedian returned for the third time this week after the midterms, but this time it was something different.
It was Chappelle’s first time hosting SNL since he came under fire for a slew of transphobic jokes in his latest Netflix special The closer. And before he even took the stage at Studio 8H for his monologue, there was palpable anger on social media and the threat of a boycott from the show’s writers, especially considering that this season SNL has its first gender non-binary cast member in Molly Kearney.
But while he made a point of avoiding the subject that has seemingly occupied him for the past few years, Chappelle may have dug himself an even deeper hole by—deliberately—defending the essence of Kanye West’s anti-Semitic rhetoric through comedy.
The comedian entered the room and began reading a short statement: “I condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and I stand behind my friends in the Jewish community. And so, Kanye, you buy yourself some time.”
Chappelle went on to explain that over the course of his 35-year career he has come to learn that there are “two words in the English language that you should never say in a row: ‘The’ and ‘Jews'”. strong jokes about West’s “death con 3” tweet and the fallout he faced from Adidas and others for his words.
“It’s a big problem, he had broken the rules of show business,” Chappelle said. “You know, the rules of perception. If they’re black, then it’s a mess. If it’s Italians, it’s a mess. If they are Jewish, that is a coincidence and you should never talk about it.”
After noting that “Kanye got into so much trouble that Kyrie [Irving] got into trouble,” said Chappelle, “This is where I draw the line. I know the Jewish people around the world have been through terrible things, but you can’t blame black Americans for that.” That line was met with silence, save for a single shout from the audience. “Thanks, that one person who said ‘woo’.”
SNL’s ‘Fox & Friends’ Turns On Trump: ‘He’s Dead To Us’
“I’ve been to Hollywood and nobody gets mad at me, I’m just telling you what I saw,” he added, pausing for effect. “There are many Jews. Like many. But that means nothing! You know what I mean? Just because there are a lot of black people in Ferguson, Missouri, it doesn’t mean we run the business.” He said the “delusion that Jews are running show business” is “not crazy to think”, but “it is crazy to say out loud”.
There was much more to Chappelle’s monologue, which spanned over 15 minutes and also covered Herschel Walker (“perceptibly stupid”) and what some are calling “the end of the Trump era.”
But it was his decision to push the kind of anti-Semitic conspiracies that got West into trouble, albeit through jokes, that stood out and will continue to reverberate.
“It shouldn’t be so scary to talk about something,” he concluded. “It makes my job incredibly difficult. And to be honest, I’m tired of talking to such a crowd. I love you to death and I thank you for your support. And I hope they don’t take anything from me… whoever they are.”
Listen and subscribe to the podcast The Last Laugh for more information.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
Get the Daily Beast’s biggest scoops and scandals straight to your inbox. Sign up now.
Stay informed and get unlimited access to Daily Beast’s unparalleled reporting. Subscribe now.