‘SNL’: Dave Chappelle Monologue Targets Kanye, Herschel Walker

Lorne Michaels once again turned to stand-up vet Dave Chappelle to host Saturday Night Live this week.

With floundering ratings, it’s no wonder the show would reach out to Chappelle. Historically, he’s been a huge draw for the show, and his takes almost always draw headlines. (See above!) Indeed, people have been itching to hear his thoughts on Ye especially since they’re both rich, Black, and have been called out for saying inappropriate things.

The largest chunk of Chappelle’s monologue on Saturday was devoted to that very topic. He starts out with a denunciation of antisemitism in all its forms, then follows it up with, “…and that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time.” In classic Chappelle fashion, he skirts perilously close to the line between telling jokes about Jewish culture and mocking it. He also leaves it ambiguous as to how much he’s defending Black celebrities being antisemitic — Kyrie Irving, whom the NBA forced to apologize for similar behavior, is also pulled into the conversation — and how much he’s denouncing it.

Chappelle makes time to talk about Trump – ironic, since it followed a cold open that made clear how irrelevant Trump now is. Of course, James Austin Johnson still played Trump, so maybe that’s another blurred line? He touches on Ukraine, saying that Russia losing the war would be like America losing a war to Colorado. (Though it may not be such a fair comparison. Given the number of dispensaries there, the U.S. Army could easily lose their way through the haze of smoke over the state.)

The most frustrating thing is probably that, despite Chappelle’s willingness to delve into controversial topics, and despite having been in a situation very similar to Ye’s own — one might even say both men were “cancelled” (though Chappelle still has a Netflix deal, while it remains to be seen how Ye is doing a year from now) — he is unwilling to talk about his own troubles. (Since the last time he hosted SNL, Chappelle ignited controversy with an October 2021 Netflix comedy special which some felt contained “dangerously transphobic” comments.)

He ends his monologue by calling out the mysterious “They” — a reference to trans people and organizations he’s repeatedly crossed — who have been taking away his freedom to speak freely. The most clear sign that Chappelle still doesn’t have a handle on trans issues is probably that he won’t even call another famous Black man by the name he’s chosen. To Dave, Ye will always be Kanye, whether he likes it or not.

NBC has released no video of the monologue; in the meantime, grade this weekend’s episode beloew.

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