“Why would anybody care what their favorite comedian thinks after they saw a police officer kneel on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds?”
Early this morning Dave Chappelle released a furious, righteous, impassioned monologue on the murder of George Floyd and the protests that have sprung up throughout the country. In what’s easily the best work of his Netflix era, Chappelle doesn’t try to give voice to the movement or the justified rage rippling through America—as he says, “this is the streets talking for themselves, they don’t need me right now”—but focuses on his own rage, his own disgust, which drips from almost every word he says. It’s searing, powerful, and proof that Chappelle is absolutely still one of the most vital comedians around, no matter how disappointing and regressive his most recent special was. (He also takes time to knock hoax-peddling huckster Candace Owens, which is great to see, even if it just gives her the attention and notoriety that is her entire reason for existing.)
Chappelle’s looseness greatly helps in this case. He mentions that he normally wouldn’t release something this hastily put together, but the whole spur-of-the-moment feeling about this video—like he’s not performing stand-up but just pouring out his heart and mind about the fucked up world we live in—is a huge reason that it makes such an impact. Whatever my criticisms with his recent specials, Chappelle has always been a smart, perceptive comedian with an innate grasp on how to speak to an audience; he’s also capable of being deeply sensitive, and that sensitivity returns in this video after being rarely seen in his latest full-length specials.
Anyway, “8:46”—which, as Chappelle points out, is also the time of birth on his birth certificate—is a reminder of stand-up’s power, and something pretty much everybody should watch. And it’s also benefiting Equal Justice Initiative, which could use our support right now. Check it out below.