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Legendary comedian and TV star Dave Chappelle surprised fans everywhere with the release of a new Netflix comedy special, which released for free on YouTube. Called 8:46, the special was filmed on June 6, with chairs set up outside and social distancing measures taken to make it as safe as possible, and released on June 11. Chappelle took the stage 87 days after his last performance, and he spent about half an hour combining comedy with social commentary, and it involved calling out CNN host Don Lemon.
Don Lemon recently used his show as a platform in the midst of the nationwide protests in the Black Lives Movement against police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and he called on a number of celebrities to lend their voices, including Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tyler Perry, Drake, Anthony Anderson, Diddy, and more. In response, Dave Chappelle used part of his 8:46 special to call out Lemon, saying:
So the other night, I’m in my little club house and I’m watching Don Lemon, that hot bed of reality. He says, ‘Where are all these celebrities? Why aren’t you talking?’ This n---- said everybody. I was screaming at the TV. ‘I dare you to say me, n----. I dare you.’ Has anyone ever listened to me do comedy? Have I ever not said anything about these things before? So now all of a sudden, this n---- expects me to step in front of the streets and talk over the work these people are doing, as a celebrity? Answer me. Do you wanna see a celebrity right now? Do we give a fuck what Ja Rule thinks? Does it matter about celebrity? No. This is the streets talking for themselves. They don’t need me right now.
Dave Chappelle took issue with Don Lemon calling on celebrities to voice their support for Black Lives Matter in light of all the protests, saying that the people who deserve the spotlight are the ones doing all the work. Celebrities are making headlines recently for voicing support during crises in ways that didn't go over well.
Gal Gadot of Wonder Woman fame previously led famous people during a quarantine rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," and more recently a star-studded Black Lives Matter PSA featured the likes of Julianne Moore, Kristen Bell, Aaron Paul, and more. Don Lemon calling out celebrities for not lending their voices didn't sit well with Dave Chappelle.
Dave Chappelle went on during his comedy special to confirm that he'll stay out of the spotlight and keep the attention on the larger issues, which gained momentum following the death of George Floyd. Chappelle revealed that the title of his comedy special, 8:46, was named for the length of time that Floyd was pinned down before his death. Chappelle said:
I kept my mouth shut and I’ll still keep my mouth shut. But don’t think that my silence is complicit or all this shit these n----- are saying, trying to get everyone to sing these fucking songs. I know all these songs. I was raised on these songs. Why would anyone care what their favorite comedian thinks after they saw a police officer kneel on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds?
The comedian didn't mince words in his response to Don Lemon calling out celebrities or his confirmation that he doesn't intend to change his own stance and start speaking up. Dave Chappelle made the point that he's keeping his silence for a reason, and his isn't the voice that should matter right now.
Of course, Dave Chappelle's special on YouTube has already been watched more than 6.5 million times at the time of writing, and that number will only grow. Over on CNN, Don Lemon responded to Chappelle's commentary. In the process, Lemon revealed that Chappelle is actually his favorite comedian, and that he's "actually honored to be memorialized in a Dave Chappelle special."
Don Lemon also revealed that he agrees with Dave Chappelle that young people's voices should be heard rather than "the establishment" of older people, but Lemon also stood by his argument that celebrity voices should be heard, including Chappelle.
But I do think that this is not a moment for modesty. We should all be using our platform to do whatever we can. And at least to show those young people and those people out there that we support them. And it doesn’t mean taking all of the credit for it or speaking out for them. I think that they can do that on their own, that’s exactly right. But I think that they need to know that people like Dave Chappelle, like me, or whoever, supports them. And that’s all they need to know. But the irony is that his special is called 8:46. He’s talking about this issue, and I think it’s great. He’s using his platform to talk about this in the way that he can. Listen, I’m not beyond reproach or criticism. I actually welcome it. And Dave can come on my show and he can talk about it any time.
Don Lemon, who anchors CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on weekdays on CNN, invited Dave Chappelle to come on his show in his response to the comedian's comments. Lemon went on to say that he welcomes Chappelle's criticism and commentary because they are "two men of color who have two big platforms" who are having a discussion, whether or not they agree.
Dave Chappelle hasn't responded to Don Lemon's comments or his invitation at the time of writing. The comedian's presence on social media is limited, and his Instagram account has exactly one post, and that post is his 8:46 Netflix special. Comments on the post have been limited, but the numbers speak for themselves. After only 16 hours on Chappelle's account, the special has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.
For more of Dave Chappelle's comedy, three of his comedy specials are available streaming on Netflix, as well as Def Comedy Jam 25, featuring Chappelle as well as Steve Harvey (who is currently delivering his comic stylings as a game show host), Cedric the Entertainer, Martin Lawrence, Tiffany Haddish, and more. If you're in the market for more streaming options, be sure to check out our 2020 Netflix premiere schedule.