Jerry Seinfeld Shares His Thoughts On Dave Chappelle's Controversial SNL Jokes

It’s fairly common for Saturday Night Live episodes to remain watercooler fodder for days after new episodes air, but Dave Chappelle’s latest return to the 30 Rock stage drew reactions that are a bit more rare in their nature. Chappelle’s lengthy monologue (which was different from his dress rehearsal set), which was essentially the comedian’s reaction to the backlash against Kanye West and Kyrie Irving’s anti-semitism, has earned a swath of negative criticisms and calls for change. Not just from fans and viewers, but from those within Hollywood itself, such as sitcom royalty Jerry Seinfeld, whose Jewishness has long been a staple of his comedy.

Seinfeld, who is currently working on Netflix’s Pop-Tart movie, spoked with THR about toaster pastries, touring, his new book The Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Book, and more. But of course, the topic of Chappelle’s latest SNL appearance came up, and when asked if he found it funny, the Emmy winner answered with:

I did think the comedy was well-executed, but I think the subject matter calls for a conversation that I don’t think I’d want to have in this venue.

As a comic who has long held a reputation for sidestepping any professional strife through his comedy and other projects, Jerry Seinfeld often chooses to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, which is quite unlike every main character — and most side characters — in his classic sitcom (which is available to stream in full with a Netflix subscription). And so it’s not so shocking that he first gave Dave Chappelle the benefit of the doubt and complimented the performance itself, while implying he wasn’t as pleased by the actual material. 

Understanding that a one-on-one interview wasn’t going to solve any overall problems, Seinfeld reserved any harsher opinions for potential conversations in the future, ones that he hopes would be “productive,” as he put it. But it’s not exactly clear if those talks will happen in the near future, as the two comedians aren’t exactly BFFs, which Seinfeld spoke to in saying:

I don’t have a close relationship with him. We’re friends and it’s not a close relationship.

Both Jerry Seinfeld and Dave Chappelle have lucrative deals with Netflix for their high-profile comedy specials, with the latter having sparked previous backlashes over material about transgender people and others within the LGBTQ+ community. But I doubt the streaming giant will be the place where the comics can have a productive conversation in that sense, considering its higher-ups have defended Chappelle repeatedly. 

To be fair, not everyone is waving torches and pitchforks in Dave Chappelle’s general direction. His Half Baked buddy Jon Stewart came out in his defense, not so much by validating the things Chappelle said, but by voicing his belief that trying to censor arguably offensive jokes and penalizing those who tell them is not the right way to go about handling the root of the problem. 

While waiting to see if anything else comes of this, check out the funniest comedy specials currently streaming on Netflix, and head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.