‘SNL’: Dave Chappelle Addresses Kanye West’s Controversy but Not His Own

Saturday Night Live Dave Chappelle
Will Heath/NBC

Comedian Dave Chappelle started off his Saturday Night Live monologue on Saturday, November 12, with a prepared statement: “I denounce antisemitism in all its forms, and I stand with my friends in the Jewish community.”

“And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time,” Chappelle added, launching into a lengthy stand-up routine, much of which was devoted to Kanye West and his antisemitic tweets.

“I gotta tell you guys, I’ve probably been doing this 35 years now,” Chappelle said. “And early in my career, I learned that there were two words in the English language that you should never say together in sequence, and those words are ‘the’ and ‘Jews.’ I’ve never heard no one do good after they said that.”

The former Chappelle’s Show star also discussed Adidas terminating its partnership with West amid the controversy (shortly after West claimed in a podcast interview that Adidas couldn’t drop him). “Ironically, Adidas was founded by Nazis, and they were offended,” Chappelle said. “I guess the students have passed the teacher.”

Chappelle told the SNL audience he thought West was not “crazy” but “possibly not well.”

Kanye West

Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company

“I’ve been to Hollywood,” he added. “I don’t want y’all to get mad at me. I’m just telling you. I have been to Hollywood. This is just what I saw. It’s a lot of Jews. Like, a lot. But that doesn’t mean anything, you know what I mean? There’s a lot of Black people in Ferguson, MO. Doesn’t mean we run the place. I can see if you had some kind of issue … you might go out to Hollywood, and you might start connecting some kind of lines, and you can maybe adopt the illusion that the Jews run show business. It’s not a crazy thing to think. But it’s a crazy thing to say out loud in a climate like this.”

In his 15-minute monologue, Chappelle also discussed Donald Trump, Kyrie Irving, and the war in Ukraine. Absent from the opener, however, was any mention of the controversy around Chappelle’s jokes about transgender people in his 2021 Netflix special The Closer. Those comments spurred hundreds of Netflix employees to walk out of work in protest, but Netflix kept the special online. And this May, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended Chappelle to The New York Times, saying, “Nobody would say that what he does isn’t thoughtful or smart. You just don’t agree with him.”

However, Dave did hint at the accusations of transphobia against him during his SNL monologue on Saturday, saying, “It shouldn’t be this scary to talk about anything. It’s making my job incredibly difficult. And to be honest with you, I’m sick of talking to a crowd like this. I love you to death, and I thank you for your support. And I hope they don’t take anything away from me, whoever they are.”

Saturday Night Live, Saturdays, 11:30/10:30c, NBC