Dave Chappelle’s ‘SNL’ monologue expertly tackles Trump, Covid-19


Screenshot from Saturday Night Live's YouTube channel

Comedian Dave Chappelle hosted the first “Saturday Night Live” episode following Election Day.

Dave Chappelle walked out to deliver his epic 16-minute monologue on Saturday Night Live this week, holding a cigarette and giving the crowd his signature grin. 

On national television, the comic legend gave his unfiltered thoughts on it all. From the Covid-19 pandemic, to his exit from “Chappelle’s Show” nearly twenty years ago, to ongoing systemic racism, Chappelle traversed both the uncomfortable truths of our nation and his experience as a Black man in America in the way only he can. 

Fans of Chappelle will remember his monologue after the 2016 election of President Trump, “So, in that spirit, 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.” 

Here in 2020, Chappelle has had enough of Trump. On SNL this week, Chappelle used his daringly vulnerable style of comedy to keep the audience on its toes in the aftermath of the election of President-elect Joe Biden.

Chappelle started his monologue, by telling the story of his grandfather who was a slave for the first few years of his life. Then he transitioned to joking about being bought and sold more than his grandfather, which was a subtle dig at HBO and Comedy Central regarding his folklore departure from his late-night sketch comedy back in 2005. 

The monologue dipped and dived into the pandemic, mass shootings and Reagan economics. Along the way, Chappelle made some stinging comments on the gender pay gap and “poor white people.” Overarchingly though, Chappelle seemingly alluded that there are deeper truths in all his jokes.

“Don’t even wanna wear your mask because it’s oppressive? Try wearing the mask I’ve been wearing all these years. 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. Black people, we’re the only ones that know how to survive this,” Chappelle said. 

At one point, Chappelle shifts from degrading Chris Christie, on what appears like a pretty shallow fat joke, to evoking an immensely emotive response from the audience on Trump’s lack of integrity or empathy for even his allies like Christie and Hermain Cain. 

“Where was his secret serum? (Hermain Cain) That’s your leader (Trump). Think about that. For four years. That’s your leader. What kind of man does that? What kind of man makes sure he’s okay while his friends fight for their lives and die? A white man,” Chapelle said.

As the monologue ends, Chappelle demonstrates more wisdom in trying times by offering others insight into his own personal anguish and the hard reality for Black people regardless of who is in power in America. Furthermore, Chappelle was unapologetically and unashamedly honest to the point where it could seem like he has no hope for the future of the country. 

However, Chappelle ended with an urgent message of hope and forgiveness. 

“You’re a police officer. And every time you put your uniform on, you feel like you’ve got a target on your back,” he said. “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. Everyone knows how that feels. But here’s the difference between me and you. You guys hate each other for that. 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 got to find a way to live your life. 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.” 

Chappelle’s courage to challenge the audience’s mindset, in my mind, makes him the greatest comic to ever live. But Chappelle has transcended the limiting title of comedian. He is an artist, an author of experience and an undeniably poetic storyteller. His second ballad-like monologue on SNL is timely and provoking. Regardless of his own personal beliefs or opinions, it is worth a watch or three. 

On SNL’s opening monologue this week, Chappelle has once again provided an example of his comedic genius through the hard truths of his 16-minute testimony, where the artistry he possesses is fully exhibited.