Dave Chappelle kicked off his Saturday Night Live hosting duties with a hilarious monologue. It’s nice to see Chappelle back on the national comedy stage, even if this isn’t a full-blown HBO standup special. His jokes were topical, funny, and still biting — as well as full on inappropriate, which is something many people wouldn’t expect from network television. After an Omarosa reference, he managed to drop both the n-word as well as a five letter word that starts with “p” that President-Elect Trump has enjoyed using recently, which will net NBC huge FCC fines but is probably worth it when you are lucky enough to have Chappelle as the host.
The monologue not only managed to be funny at times, but sober and serious when needed as well. For every “white riot” or Wu-Tang Clan joke, there were sobering reminders about mass shootings and gentrification. After this week in national politics and country-wide tension it’s no surprise that a bit more dour monologue and episode might be in store. Chappelle knew that and approached it in exactly the perfect way, balancing crowd-pleasing one-liners without ignoring the audience’s mood in studio and at home. Many are already calling it one of the greatest SNL monologues of all time, and they probably have a pretty good argument for that distinction.
The best comedy comes out of shocking events or unknowable circumstances, and he handled it exactly the way the best comedy minds are able to. This week’s show may end up being a mixed bag because of current events, but at least Chappelle started it off on the right note with laughs and important commentary in equal measure.