Saturday Night Live
Dave Chappelle & Foo Fighters
November 7, 2020
The first time Dave Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live was four days after Donald Juniper Trump had been elected to the Presidency. It was a fraught moment for more than half of America, and Chappelle, a gleeful critic of White America and its deep-rooted racism, in the wake of this nation electing an unabashed racist, chose to take a moderating path, urging us to give Trump a chance.
Welp, we gave him four years, and now as Chappelle returns for only the second time to host, we as Americans have affirmatively declared the Trump experiment a failure. (Thank God.) As for Chappelle, he hasn’t changed his tone much: he still thinks we need to try to understand one another better, to give one another a chance, to not hate. And I will! Just as soon as Trump and his GOP loonies stop trying to burn down our faith in our democracy. Go ahead and book Chappelle for November 9, 2024, Lorne, and I’ll be happy to update us all on how that went.
Saturday morning, a friend texted me predicting what the cold open would be this week: Biden at the piano, playing “Hallelujah” as the other Trump/Biden characters come out and join him one-by-one, and he used the post-2016 election cold open and the post-2018 cold open as proof. In response, I texted that I would be SO MAD if they did such a thing: the reason Hillary and Trump were singing that lovely, but profoundly sad song, was because they had lost significant elections. Biden singing it might make a nice conclusion on a three-act narrative arc, but it wouldn’t make any sense: he had won. Why would he be sad?
And God bless the writers, they managed to split the baby: there was a piano, Trump was at it, but he was singing “Macho Man” as a dirge to soothe his tacky, pathetic baby ego. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the fault of the 2018 sketch is that Trump would never sing something as high-minded as “Hallelujah” — he’s never heard “Hallelujah.” But “Macho Man?” The Village People song that he blared at his rallies along with “YMCA,” while being blissfully unaware of who The Village People were and what those songs were actually about? Absolutely.
And so, for that bit of comedy genius, I’m awarding this sketch a few extra points than I actually want to — I DESPERATELY want to strip extra points for that Ace Ventura reference. But I have to concede (unlike our criminal president) that “Macho Man” was actually very funny.
Also, you were sorta right, Jason. Sorta.
Grade: B+ BUT CAN WE BE DONE WITH BOTH CARREY AND BALDWIN NOW FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST?
Four years ago, Saturday Night Live Dave Chappelle hosted the post-election episode, and here’s what I had to say about it:
As if he knew we would require his services this week, comedian Dave Chappelle came out of his semi-retirement to host Saturday Night Live for the first time ever. And thank God for it. The opening monologue is always best when a comedian is the host and the show gives them time to do some of their stand-up and Chappelle was no exception. His 11-minute set touches on everything from Trump to Black Lives Matter to Harambe to the Orlando shootings to taxes to Obama and it is hilarious and insightful from start to finish. Chappelle ends the set promising to give Trump a chance as long as Trump gives the traditionally disenfranchised a chance, and though I, personally, am not ready to make nice yet, I can appreciate the sentiment.
Well, he’s back in time for a Trump loss, and this time, the show gave him over 16 minutes for his monologue, making it if not THE longest segment on Saturday Night Live, certainly placing it up there. In those 16 minutes, he talked about his great-grandfather who was born into slavery, how Americans were not safe pre-Covid, called Donald Trump racist — and hilarious, suggested White people should do random acts of kindness for Black people, and scolded people to be humble in victory, urging them to not hate each other.
Which is all great! Dave Chappelle is funny, and his delivery — especially when he is talking about racial issues — is confrontational in a mischievous way: looking White America directly in the eye and calling us racist while making us laugh at the same time. It’s a trick that he pulls off beautifully.
What he doesn’t pull off beautifully are jokes that punch down. Dave Chappelle is a straight male comedian of a certain age, and what I have learned in the past four years is that many straight male comedians of a certain age feel are pretty sure they are under attack from cancel culture and political correctness and that it is their singular job to fight back. Fighting back, to these guys, means unapologetically making sexist, homophobic, and racist jokes and then yelling at the audience that they are being too sensitive if they don’t laugh along with them.
Chappelle does it twice here: using Dr. Birx as an excuse to “joke” that women shouldn’t receive equal pay (and literally asking the audience if he “triggered” them) before making a “joke” about Freddy Mercury contracting AIDS, a joke that would have been considered offensive in the 80s. More than being offended by this, I’m just so fucking bored with comedians relying on shock value and then claiming that somehow they are the victims because society has moved on without them. Far from making them heroes who “dare to say what ‘everyone’ is thinking” — everyone being straight men — it just shows how lazy they truly are. The bottom line: Dave Chappelle is better than this, and if he’d just let down his defensive posturing for half a goddamned second, he’d realize that.
Also, Saturday Night Live? In the past six weeks, you’ve had one week where you didn’t lapse into careless misogyny. ONE. When you return in a couple of weeks, try harder.
In what felt like a nod to Chapelle Show, Dave Chappelle introduced the first sketch explaining that it was about some Black people losing their jobs thanks to the current social climate. Those two Black folks: Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. In addition, Dennis Haysbert, the State Farm guy (although, he will always be President Palmer for me. R.I.P., PRESIDENT PALMER) and Count Chocula find themselves on the cutting block. Funny, unflinching, even daring, this genuinely feels like it could have been on Chappelle Show back in the day. R.I.P. CHAPPELLE SHOW.
This video celebrating Super Mario Bros.’ 35th anniversary is one of those completely juvenile sketches that even I, snobby prig with no sense of humor, can actually get behind. A bunch of people is interviewed about what the game means to them and where they were when they first played it, but some memories go … off-track. LISTEN. THIS IS DUMB. THIS IS 13-YEAR-OLD BOY HUMOR, 100%. But did I chuckle? Reader, I chuckled.
And listen up, Kyle Mooney-stans: I’m pretty sure this bit is one of your boy’s. See? I don’t always hate.
A woman’s boyfriend shows up at her door, begging her to take him back: he’s changed! He’s given up drugs and STDs and porn and guns and waggling his penis in a park and … yeah. I want this to be better than it is but it is not.
“Weekend Update” was all about the election and it was all great. Thanks to Chappelle’s long monologue, this was kept short and sweet and focused and I appreciate it. I don’t know what else to say, except, you’re forgiven, Jost and Che. FOR NOW.
Here’s the problem with this Rudy Guliani visit to the “Weekend Update” desk: It’s funny, but it is not nearly as funny as Rudy being exposed by Borat with his hands in his pants (ask me what I think was actually going on there in the comments, and I might give you a specific answer. BUT IF YOU ASK — BE AWARE, I WILL ANSWER AND YOU WILL HAVE TO LIVE WITH THAT ANSWER FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE), or Four Seasons Total Landscape.
In maybe the weakest sketch of the night, some locals of a small town describe a hailstorm only for it to turn into a low-key local romantic scandal. Uh … sure.
In the final sketch, a local morning TV show watches Donald Trump leaving the White House via the notorious OJ Simpson white Bronco drive with Dummy, Jr. at the wheel. This feels like a dragged-out “Weekend Update” joke, but I’m also not mad at it.
Also, the Foo Fighters. Because.
And I don’t usually comment on the goodbyes at the end of the night, but just look at this asshole:
EXCUSE ME? I’M THANKFUL FOR WHAT, EXACTLY? WHAT DID YOU DO, ALEC? I REALLY NEED TO KNOW WHAT, EXACTLY, YOU THINK YOU DID?
Alec Baldwin holding up a “You’re Welcome” sign at the end of his SNL Trump stint gives off a very particular energy pic.twitter.com/CSZKe9sjAT
— K (@AlsoPurp) November 10, 2020
Final Grade: B+.
Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.