Dave Chappelle talks the importance of Just For Laughs Montreal, and the role of comedians in the Trump era

Dave Chappelle visited Toronto over the weekend to present a special award to Just For Laughs at Sunday’s Canadian Screen Awards, and told the CBC why JFL its flagship Montreal festival holds a special place for him.

“I’m one of the few people that came from America to Canada to get a break. I came to the Montreal festival. I spent a weekend here. And it changed my life. You know, it’s never been the same. It put me on a path to become a better comedian than I would’ve been had I not come through the festival,” Chappelle told the CBC. “I’d never seen comedy taken so seriously before…It was comedians from all over the world. I was exposed to more talent in a single week than I’d seen in years. And it was the festival, so everyone was playing their A game, and it made me want to be more serious about my work.”

Fast-forward to 2017, and everyone wants to know how comedians are reacting to Trump as president.

Should comedians have a different role now?

“Interestingly enough, it’s turning out that way. I wouldn’t normally have made that assumption, though. I think Trump’s kinda bad for comedy,” he said. “Most comics in the states are starting to do the same jokes just because Trump makes, is so on everybody’s mind, so it will be nice when we don’t have to talk about him as much.”

He continued: “In my life, nothing is bigger than comedy,” he said. “I love my genre and my genre allows me to be more honest than most peoples, but it’s still comedy man, it’s got to be in the spirit of levity because it kinda helps us get through tough times like this.”

Thankfully, Chappelle said, plenty of other comedians are rising to the occasion.

“I think most of these guys that you see working are wildly courageous. It’s such a strange time with people being bombarded with information, and I think comedy is an important valve in siphoning through all that. And I think that the comedians, I feel like my genre is secure. The guys that I see coming up carry the mantle well. And then a lot of the guys who have been banging from the beginning have come back to stand-up. You’re seeing Chris Rock back. You’re seeing Jon Stewart in the clubs. You’re seeing Seinfeld back. So I feel like the genre is just very strong and healthy, and everyone inspires me.”

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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