Jon Stewart Lengthily Defends Dave Chappelle's SNL Monologue Against Claims Of Anti-Semitism

Dave Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live monologue set the internet on fire upon his episode airing on November 12. Of course, like any Chappelle comedy routine, there was backlash over the comic’s subject matter as he was accused of pushing anti-semitism. While the backlash has been fierce, many fans and celebrities came to his defense. One of those who spoke on the polarizing comedian’s behalf was his friend and fellow comic Jon Stewart. Stewart took the time to defend the Grammy winner’s monologue against claims of anti-semitism.

The The Problem with Jon Stewart host took a moment to defend his good friend while visiting The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Colbert started the conversation by asking about the controversy surrounding the Jewish community following actions and statements from Kanye West and basketball star Kyrie Irving. Eventually, Stewart spoke about the backlash Chappelle is receiving following his latest comedy bit. The comedian broke down his response following the controversial SNL monologue, saying:

Now, everybody obviously calls and says ‘Did you see Dave on SNL?’ I’m like ‘Yeah, we’re very good friends, and I always watch.’ [They say] ‘He normalized anti-semitism with his monologue.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know if you’ve been on comment sections or on those news articles, but it’s pretty fucking normal.’ Like anti-semitism, you know it is incredibly normal. But the one thing I will say is I don’t believe that censorship and penalty are the way to end anti-semitism or to not gain understanding. I don’t believe in that, and I think it’s the wrong way for us to approach it.

Anti-semitism has existed in corners of the internet for years. Social media alone has amplified voices against the Jewish community. Like most of Chappelle’s post-election monologue, the comic was seemingly trying to turn the mirror back on the U.S. and its prejudices. His track record of controversial comments about the transgender community already had some on edge, but Stewart had a point with his take on censorship and penalizing those for perceived hate speech rather than creating an open dialogue.

The conversation soon turned to Stewart addressing the tropes associated with the Jewish community. The former Daily Show host felt internet conspiracies and other small pockets have been spinning that Jewish people control banks, Hollywood, and the media. Stewart said that the backlash Chappelle faced is reductive, especially given that comedy reflects society:

I think reflectively naming things anti-semitism is as reductive as some of the things they might be saying. It immediately shuts down a conversation… Comedy is reductive. I think part of what it is we play with tropes because everyone has prejudices in their lives and the way they view things, and comics rely on those prejudices as a shorthand for our material. Even the locust of comics play with tropes to a certain extent.

Jon Stewart even shared that there was a specific point in Dave Chappelle's monologue that stood out to him, as he related to the comic’s frustration over not being able to talk about sensitive topics in today’s culture.

Dave said something in the SNL monologue that I thought was constructive as well. He said, ‘It shouldn’t be this hard to talk about these things.’

Even before last week’s episode aired, the comedian’s latest SNL appearance was sparking controversy. There were reports of the show’s staff writers boycotting Chapelle’s return to 30 Rockefeller Center over his recent material dealing with transgender issues in his comedy specials and stand-up tours. But the outspoken comic has come to SNL to host after after Election Day multiple times since 2016.  There was so much trepidation surrounding the Chappelle’s Show star’s jokes that he reportedly did a fake monologue during rehearsal to curb any censorship.

If you want to move beyond his polarizing routine, Dave Chappelle’s SNL episode is currently available with a Peacock subscription. Saturday Night Live is taking a break from airing new episodes until December 3 when Keke Palmer hosts with Grammy-winning singer SZA as the musical guest. In the meantime, check out our 2022 TV schedule.

Adreon Patterson
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