Dave Chappelle defends Kanye West’s anti-Semitism during ‘SNL’ monologue

“It’s not a crazy thing to think, but it’s a crazy thing to say out loud, in a climate like this”

Dave Chappelle used his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live to address anti-Semitic remarks made by Kanye West in recent weeks.

Last month, West was banned from Twitter and Instagram after posting a series of anti-Semitic messages. He went on to say he didn’t believe in the term anti-Semitism and that he’s “jealous” of Jewish culture.

Several anti-fascist groups spoke out against the remarks and many artists, celebrities, and politicians publicly condemned West over his remarks including Jack Antonoff, John Legend, David Schwimmer, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and ex-Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Yesterday (November 12) Dave Chappelle started his Saturday Night Live opening monologue by reading a statement off a piece of paper.  “I denounce anti-Semitism in all its forms, and I stand with my friends in the Jewish community,” he said. “And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time.”

“I’ve probably been doing this 35 years now, and early in my career I learned that there are two words in the English language you should never say together in sequence, and they are: The Jews,’” he continued. “I’ve never heard someone do good after they said that.”

Chappelle went on to say that previously when West got into trouble, he’d turn up immediately. “But this time, I was like ‘I’m going to see what happens first’.” He then went on to talk about West’s recent appearance on the Drink Champs video podcast.

“This time, he was angry about something. He said, ‘I can say anti-semitic things and Adidas can’t drop me.’ Adidas dropped him immediately. Ironically, Adidas was founded by Nazis and they were offended. I guess the student surpassed the teacher,” Chappelle said.

He continued: “It’s a big deal, but he broke the show business rules of perception. If they’re Black, then it’s a gang. If they’re Italian, it’s a mob. If they’re Jewish, it’s a coincidence, and you should never speak about it.”

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“I saw one news pundit screaming about Kanye, she said ‘mental health is no excuse for that type of language’. Yes it is, bitch. You can kill somebody if you’re mentally ill,” said Chappelle. “I don’t think Kanye is crazy, I think he’s possibly not well. But I’ve been to Hollywood, this is just what I saw…it’s a lot of Jews. But that doesn’t mean anything. There’s a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri but that doesn’t mean they’re running the place.”

“I can see if you had some sort of issue, you might go out to Hollywood and you might start connecting some lines and you could maybe adopt the delusion that Jews run show business,” Chappelle said. “It’s not a crazy thing to think, but it’s a crazy thing to say out loud in a climate like this.”

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle. CREDIT: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

After talking about how West lost his billionaire status, Chappelle said: “It shouldn’t be this scary to talk about anything. It’s making my job incredibly difficult, to be honest. I hope they don’t take anything away from me, whoever they are.”

Saturday Night Live had been criticised for booking Chappelle after the comedian made a series of seemingly-transphobic remarks during his Netflix special last year.

Earlier this year, a venue in Minnesota cancelled one of his stand-up gigs following the backlash. Chappelle addressed the criticism during a speech at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C., which was released on Netflix, where he claimed those critical of his comments disregarded his “artistic nuance”.

Meanwhile, West returned to social media earlier this month and promised a 30-day cleanse from sex, alcohol and porn.

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