Comedian Dave Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live monologue has divided social media.
Chappelle returned to host the show for the third time on Saturday night, and the first since he came under fire for his jokes about the transgender community following the release of his 2021 Netflix special.
The announcement that Chappelle was returning to host SNL sparked a swift backlash, and Page Six reported that some of the show’s writers planned to boycott the episode.
Chappell did not mention the controversy as he appeared on stage, but began his monologue by reading a prepared statement. “I denounce anti-Semitism in all its forms and I stand with my friends in the Jewish community,” he said, before adding: “And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time.”
Chappelle spent much of his 15-minute monologue on Kanye West’s recent antisemitic remarks, although he also spoke on Donald Trump and the midterm elections.
He said that early in his career, he had learned there are “two words in the English language that you should never say together in sequence and those words are ‘the’ and ‘Jews.'”
On the fallout to West’s antisemitic remarks, Chappelle continued that “it’s a big deal” because “he had broken the show business rules.”
“You know, the rules of perception,” he said. “If they’re Black, then it’s a gang. If they’re Italian, it’s a mob. But if they’re Jewish, it’s a coincidence and you should never speak about it.”
Chappelle went on to joke that “Kanye got in so much trouble, Kyrie got in trouble,” referencing Kyrie Irving who was suspended from the Brooklyn Nets for at least five games after sharing a link to an antisemitic film on social media.
“The NBA told him he should apologize and he was slow to apologize and then the list of demands to get back in their good graces got longer and longer, and this is where I draw the line. I know the Jewish people have been through terrible things all over the world, but you can’t blame that on Black Americans.
In an apparent nod to the backlash to his jokes, Chappelle ended his monologue by saying he was “getting sick of” talking to crowds. “It shouldn’t be this scary to talk about anything, it’s making my job incredibly difficult,” he said,
He thanked fans for their support, adding: “I hope they don’t take anything away from me… whoever they are.”
Viewers took to social media with divided opinions, with some blasting Chappelle for echoing the same antisemitic conspiracy theories that had landed West into trouble.
“The only thing more disgusting than Chappelle’s anti-Semitism is the audience laughing along,” tweeted Melissa Weiss, the managing editor of Jewish Insider.
“That chappelle snl monologue…pretty antisemitic!” added journalist Marlow Stern.
Others questioned why he was allowed to host at all.
“Really incredible that Chappelle got another chance to host SNL after all his anti-trans comments and saying ‘we should give Trump a chance’ and he used that opportunity to try out some new ‘maybe it actually is the Jews fault’ material,” tweeted Max Berger, the co-founder of activist organization IfNotNow.
However, some came to Chappelle’s defense.
“C’mon… what Kyrie and Kanye said was antisemitic,” tweeted Jason Bedrick, a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation. “This is just funny. We Jews shouldn’t forget how to take a joke.”
Music producer Felix Kay wrote: “Dave Chappelle is a comedian. You either like his jokes or you. don’t. He doesn’t care.”
Ice-T, who appeared in a sketch alongside Chappelle on Saturday night, tweeted: “Somebody said they’re gonna CANCEL me after doing SNL with Dave Chappelle.. LOL! These MFs have been trying to Cancel me for over 30yrs!”
Newsweek has contacted SNL and a representative for Chappelle for comment.