Dave Chappelle is on a comeback. The iconic stand-up comedian has two Netflix specials coming out on Tuesday and recently came off his first hosting of another show in a resurgence, Saturday Night Live. It would mark Chappelle's first major return to the spotlight and would come just days after the 2016 Presidential Election. With the show already gaining notoriety for its feud with now President Donald Trump, Chappelle knew eyes would be on him that Saturday. He was even more aware the night before when friend and comedian Louis C.K. gave him some advice about hosting, which Dave shares below:
The best advice I got was from Louis C.K. I went to a comedy club Friday night [before the show] and saw him. And Louis told me: '[Forget] the rest of the show. The monologue is all that matters.' I was stressed out all that day. But right before I went onstage, this calm just washed over me. Everything just felt right.
Dave Chappelle would take the stage on Saturday Night Live and deliver an 11-minute monologue. In those 11 minutes, Chappelle would tackle the election, ISIS, racial topics, history, and Grindr in a way that only he could. The monologue was surprisingly uncensored, even by SNL standards, and included a lot of obscenities you definitely don't hear on American network television. Chappelle concluded to a large applause from the audience (who also clapped several times during). It would appear that Louis C.K. was onto something.
Not that Dave Chappelle was necessarily oblivious to the fact his monologue could be the most important part of the night. Chappelle tells The New York Times that the Saturday Night Live writing process was in turmoil the Tuesday of the election. He recalls writers throwing out skits they had written in anticipation of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's win, and alludes to the fact that much of the writing was set back to square one after the results showed that Donald Trump would be President of the United States:
At a certain point [on election night], we were all in the writers' room, and as the night went on, and Trump was picking up these Electoral [College] votes, everyone stopped writing. And then everyone was just staring at the TV. I saw people tear up sketches they were writing. They'd assumed Hillary was going to win. Now there was essentially no show on Saturday. It was like the wind got knocked out of the writers' room. I was really worried.
While there were one or two notable sketches for that episode, it's safe to say the monologue was the headline of the next day. The rushed writing leading up to the episode might explain the unique cold open, which featured no comedy, but instead Kate McKinnon honoring recently deceased Leonard Cohen by singing "Hallelujah" dressed as Hillary Clinton. In the end, Louis C.K. helped Chappelle deliver a monologue that made headlines and netted his monologue a YouTube viewer count 3x that of C.K.'s best monologue on the official Saturday Night Live channel.
With Season 42 of the series returning soon, will anyone be able to top Dave Chappelle's monologue? We will see when the show returns live in all regions April 15th. While you wait, be sure to check out the trailer for his stand-up specials here as well as his monologue he delivered that night on the next page, and don't forget to take a look at our midseason TV premiere schedule and our summer TV premiere schedule.