Dave Chappelle and Saturday Night Live hit the right notes, and the most inside notes, after Election 2016

Timing really is everything. After a tumultuous week with a divided nation turning out for the 2016 presidential elections, what better time for us to finally see Dave Chappelle on our TV screens again, and on live television, too — hosting Saturday Night Live.

After the coldest of cold opens that simply allowed Kate McKinnon to show off even more chops, having her play the piano and sing “Hallelujah” as Hillary Clinton — thus paying tribute to Clinton’s failed campaign as well as the loss this week of singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, it’d be Chappelle who would deliver us from evil.

Chappelle first had to remind all of us that indeed, this was our first time seeing him on TV in 11 years since he left his hit Comedy Central series, Chappelle’s Show.

You know, I didn’t know that Donald Trump was going to win the election. I did suspect it. It seemed like Hillary was doing well in the polls and yet — I know the whites. You guys aren’t as full of surprises as you used to be. And I think I speak for all of black America when I say that we are all praying for Omarosa. I don’t even know what she’s doing in the news. But America’s done it. We’ve actually elected an Internet troll as our president. The whites were furious. I’ve never seen anything like it. I haven’t seen whites this mad since the O.J. verdict. White people screaming on both sides, “Aaggghhh!!!!” I’m not saying I’m enjoying it. I’m just saying I’ve never seen this before. I watched a white riot in Portland, Ore., on television the other night. News said they did a million dollars’ worth of damage. Every black person was watching that like, “amateurs.” 

So I’m staying out of it. I’m just going to take a knee like Kaepernick and let the whites figure this out among themselves. Know what I mean? We’ve been here before, we’ve been here before. And I don’t even think it’s the most important thing we’re dealing with, man. Don’t forget. Don’t forget all the things that are going on. Shootings. What you think about that? All these shootings in the last year. The worst, the worst mass shootings in the history of the United States. Pulse Nightclub, which they said ISIS did, and then it turned out that wasn’t exactly what happened. If that is what happened, then ISIS is scarier than I thought, because they have very deep cover operatives. “Look out I’m going out deep for this one, I might have to get a Grindr account, and jerk a few guys off, to throw them off the trail.” I don’t think the guy was in ISIS. What happened was he pledged allegiance to ISIS before he did what he did, which is not the same as being in ISIS, you know what I mean? Like, if I was going to have sex with a girl (and) right before I did, I screamed out “Wu-Tang!” — that don’t mean I’m in the Wu-Tang Clan. I’m just shouting Wu-Tang out.

There’s more shootings than I can literally count. You can’t even go to the goddamn zoo without seeing a shooting nowadays. They shot a gorilla at my local zoo! And the Cincinnati Police said “Shooting that gorilla was the toughest decision this department ever had to make.” I said, “Well, you about to see a lot of niggers in gorilla costumes in Cincinnati.”

Why do we have to say that? Why do we have to say that black lives matter? Now I admit that is not the best slogan, but McDonald’s already took, “You deserve a break today.” And I guess it’s kind of catchy because everyone else is biting it. Even the police is biting it: Blue lives matter. What, was you born a police? That is not a blue life. That’s a blue suit. If you don’t like it, take that blue suit off, find a new job, ’cause I’m going to tell you right now, if I could quit being black today, I’d be out the game. I did the next best thing: I became a rich, black person. Which is harder than you think, because, you know, your life becomes gentrified. Like Brooklyn. All your black friends start moving out and all these new white friends start moving in. You find yourself saying things to friends you grew up with that you never dreamed you’d say. “Sorry nigger, you can’t come with us, there’s only enough room in the balloon basket for four. Ta ta.”

Donald Trump, he did it. He’s our president. I feel bad saying it. I’m staying at a Trump Hotel right now. I don’t know if he’s going to make a good president, but he makes a swell hotel suite, I’mma tell you that. Housekeeping comes in in the morning, cleans my room. And I just, “Hey, good morning, housekeeping.” Grab a big handful of pussy, and say, you know, boss said it was okay.

Sorry about that, Lorne.

All my black friends who have money said the same thing when Trump got elected: “That’s it, bro, I’m out. I’m leaving the country. You coming with us?” Nah, I’m good dog, I’m going to stay here and get this tax break, see how it works out. Because that’s how it is being Dave Chappelle. The first time I got some money, it didn’t work out like that. The most unlikely thing happened ever. A black president came out of nowhere, like “Come on everybody, let’s start thinking about everyone else.” Oh, nigger, I just got this money! I didn’t even think you was possible! Trump went to go see Obama last week, did you see that? Yeah. Did you see Trump’s face when he came out of the meeting? Trump got sonned. He looked shook. Trump looked like he got shook. Probably came in there, “Hi, how are you, Mr. President? Good to see you.” “Hello, Donald. How ya feeling?” “Oh, God. I’ve got to tell you, this job looks like it’s going to be a lot harder than I thought.” “Really? It’s not that hard, I mean at least you get to be white while you’re doing it.” “I’m just saying, I’m a little nervous.” “Nervous? Come on man, relax, you haven’t even met the aliens yet. Relax. It’s going to be all right.”

I don’t know what he’s going to do. But I know Obama did a good job. Obama did a good job. I think we’ll all miss him when he’s gone, do you agree with this? And thank God he lived to tell about it. This is the first black dude that ever heard America’s secrets. I’m happy he lived. If, if, if — if someone threatened our president, that is the only time that I’d want him to be stereotypically black. They’d be on the news like, “An assassination attempt was carried out today on the United States president. In a bizarre sequence of events, the president himself was armed, fired back, killing four people that had nothing to do with the incident. He then ripped off his shirt, screamed out ‘Chi-town’ for some reason.”

You know, before I go, I do want to say one thing, and this is not a joke. But I think it’s important that I say this, ’cause they’re marching up the street right now as we speak. A few weeks ago I went to the White House for a party. It was the first time I’ve been there in many years and it was very exciting. And BET sponsored the party, so everyone there was black. And it was beautiful. I walked through the gates — you know, I’m from Washington, so I saw the bus stop, or the corner where the bus stop used to be, where I used to catch the bus to school and dream about nights like tonight. It was a really, really beautiful night. At the end of the night everyone went into the West Wing of the White House and it was a huge party. And everybody in there was black — except for Bradley Cooper, for some reason. And on the walls were pictures of all the presidents, of the past. Now, I’m not sure if this is true, but to my knowledge the first black person that was officially invited to the White House was Frederick Douglass. They stopped him at the gates. Abraham Lincoln had to walk out himself and escort Frederick Douglass into the White House, and it didn’t happen again, as far as I know, until Roosevelt was president. Roosevelt was president, he had a black guy over and got so much flack from the media that he literally said, “I will never have a nigger in this house again.” I thought about that, and I looked at that black room, and saw all those black faces, and Bradley, and I saw how happy everybody was. These people who had been historically disenfranchised. It made me feel hopeful and it made me feel proud to be an American and it made me very happy about the prospects of our country. 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. Thank you very much.

That was great. Three more things, though. One, for everyone who thought Dave Chappelle couldn’t go on live TV and hold to time or language constraints, here’s a pitch-perfect 11 minutes of proof positive that he is just what we need. Two, that said, interesting to see him apologize to Lorne Michaels for uttering the word “pussy” once but not for saying “nigger” several times. Three, where can I buy that shirt/jacket that has a big C on the arm and CHAPPELLE across the chest pocket? I want one of those right now, thankyouverymuch.

This week’s SNL also included a surprise cameo from SNL alum Chris Rock to help carry the load of the punchlines on an Election Night viewing party sketch, pointing out to liberal white New Yorkers that it’s not that surprising to find out so much of America might still hold onto racist or misogynist views.

There was an attempt to allow kids to talk about the election results and what they think of Donald Trump, which tried to take the high road while echoing a Clinton TV ad tagline: “Our children our watching.”

Chappelle even pulled a Chappelle’s Show meta move by introducing a pre-taped sketch explaining whether he would bring back any of his Comedy Central characters for tonight’s SNL, and then putting several of them (plus that show’s cast member, Donnell Rawlings) into a spoof of The Walking Dead.

And the show itself went double meta.

First, a sketch that started off horribly, only to review “Jheri’s Place” as the centerpiece for a sketch called “Inside SNL” complete with a press conference discussing what went wrong in the sketch.

Then a pre-taped sketch cast Leslie Jones and Kyle Mooney as themselves in a reality-show docudrama making us consider that they’re the true lovebirds behind the scenes, despite all of Leslie’s on-air flirtations with Colin Jost. It was cute but not necessarily going anywhere, until Chappelle saves it at the end with a solid laugh button.

The final 5-to-1 sketch, normally reserved for the weirdest sketch of the night, found Jones breastfeeding her adult kids (played by Chappelle and Sasheer Zamata), to the horror of Chappelle’s white friends. All except Mooney. Because you were paying attention earlier, right?


All of that, plus two powerful performances by A Tribe Called Quest, themselves paying tribute to the fallen third rapper, Phife.

All of that, plus ABSOLUTELY NO ONSCREEN APPEARANCE by anyone playing Donald Trump. Not Alec Baldwin. Not Darrell Hammond. No Trump.

Nor even a mention by the show that they allowed the real Trump to host a full episode last fall. For everything that was great and needed this weekend by SNL, the long-term test for the show will be going forward in figuring out how to portray Trump. So stay tuned next week for that.


Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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