In Defense of Dave Chappelle

That Dave Chappelle SNL monologue probably did more to normalize anti-Semitism than anything Kanye said.

Adam feldman, Time Out New York

Saturday night, I went to bed basking in the glow of Catherine Cortez Masto’s successful re-election campaign which assured Democratic control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years. Yet, when I opened my news feed Sunday morning, the “big news” was Chappelle’s supposed defense of Kanye West and Kyrie Irving on Saturday Night Live. On Twitter, the Jerusalem Post accused the comedian of “promptly engaging in antisemitic tropes.” Even had the story “above the fold.” (I know the term is a relic of the era of print media. In the digital age, it means you see the headline without having to scroll down the page.)

This is not the first time Chappelle has faced criticism for remarks found to be offensive to a segment of the population. In September 2021, Chappelle was verbally attacked by the LGBTQ+ community for comments made in his Netflix special “The Closer.” I decided to watch the performance and make my own judgement.

Yes, Chappelle pushed the envelope as he so often does. But he continued with the poignant story of his friend, transgender standup comic Daphne Dorman who opened for him in 2019 and received a shoutout from Chappelle during his Netflix “Sticks and Stones” September 2019 special. In response to her defense of and association with Chappelle, she too became a target of the “eat your own” transgender community. On October 14, 2019 Dorman tragically took her own life.

Chappelle is an equal opportunity thorn in side of political correctness. He makes fun of everyone. Later in the monologue he said of Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, “I don’t want to speak badly of Walker because he’s black, but I have to admit, he’s observably stupid.” Chappelle simply points out you must be willing to do so within your own community if you want to effectively criticize others. Which he did by pointing out how equally observably stupid the former guy is when it comes to his hoarding government documents at Mar-a-Lago.

I’ve been fired from jobs many times in my life, and taken items on the way out. You know what I never stole from work? Work.

But unlike an increasing majority of standup comics he does not shout at you. He is humor’s equivalent of Bob Dylan, a combination of poet and prophet who mixes dark humor with a call for empathy.

He acknowledged something is not right with Kanye. “I don’t think he’s crazy, he’s possibly not well.” But if you think he was defending Kanye, listen to what he said about Adidas breaking ties with one of its most lucrative partners.

Ironically, Adidas was founded by Nazis, and THEY were offended. I guess the student surpassed the teacher.

Perhaps one of the most insightful observations in the monologue is Chappelle’s take on the double standard when it comes to Blacks and Jews. The Jewish Independent reported “the studio audience laughed nervously” when Capelle alluded to Kanye’s claim that Jews run Hollywood. Chappelle, in the tradition of Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory, showed how to demonstrate the difference between fact and a conspiracy based on a fact.

I’ve been to Hollywood and — no one get mad at me — I’m just telling you what I saw. It’s a lot of Jews. Like a lot.

But that doesn’t mean anything! You know what I mean? Because there are a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri, it doesn’t mean we run the place.

Now, consider the lyrics to the number “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” from the Monty Python musical Spamalot.

To get along on Broadway
To sing a song on Broadway
To hit the top on Broadway and not lose

I tell you, Arthur King
There is one essential thing
There simply must be
Simply must be Jews

Guess who won a Tony and who is being skewered by the media. The answer is as simple as black and white.

Dave Chappelle exercises his right of free speech based on an assumption the audience is patient enough to listen and intelligent enough to understand what he is trying to say. The response by some to his SNL monologue suggests he may be wrong.

For what it’s worth.

One thought on “In Defense of Dave Chappelle

  1. Great analysis Dr. E.
    As a Jewish person watching Chapelle on SNL, I fluctuated between feeling sick to my stomach and comparing him to Lenny Bruce in my mind, as I tried to analyze the subtle “more incisive” messages he was trying to convey vis a vis his signature comedy style.
    And, yes, he was giving his audience a lot of credit for being up to the challenge of intelligently listening. But alas, we know that most probably were not.😏 And in this age of sound bites and short attention spans, that can lead to the kind of mess that makes me reach for the Pepto Bismol!

    Apropos to this posting, may I refer you to this essay by he Culture write at the Jewish Forward:

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