As “Saturday Night Live” aired just hours after the victory speech of the president-elect, its most provocative humor came not from its big-name political impersonators but from Dave Chappelle alone with a microphone and, at times, a cigarette.
The comedian, taking over “SNL” just as he did immediately after Donald Trump’s win in 2016, made no mention of Joe Biden in his unusually long, 16-minute monologue, which focused on the coronavirus and made heavy, uncensored use of the n-word.
“Thank God for COVID,” he declared, explosively, after noting that mass shootings happened every week before U.S. quarantines began.
“Someone had to lock these murderous whites up and keep ’em in the house!”
Much of the monologue was heavy and somber, notably the opening about his great grandfather (freed from slavery at 10) and his assertion that angry white people and nervous police are living with feelings he’s felt constantly as a Black man.
But it was the pandemic humor that really pushed buttons. Chappelle both condemned and envied Trump for his use of the “kung flu” label — “you racist, hilarious son of a bitch!”
He brought up the spare-no-expense treatment of Trump’s coronavirus and the president’s subsequent gloating about his fast recovery, comparing it to someone visiting a homeless shelter, showily consuming a bag of burgers and advising, “Don’t let hunger dictate your life!”
And lest he leave gender alone, he recalled the day Trump mused about treating COVID-19 with disinfectants (not bleach, as Chappelle claimed). Looking on, he said, was an eminent female virologist — presumably a reference to Deborah Birx — who acted as though that was a promising idea.
“Ooooooh,” Chappelle said. “That’s why ... THAT’S why .... women make half.”
Here’s the monologue, n-words included:
In contrast, the most surprising thing about the inevitably election-themed opening was the swift turnaround in outfitting Maya Rudolph with a replica of the white suit and silky blouse Kamala Harris had just unveiled earlier that evening.
Rudolph was joined by this season’s Biden impersonator, Jim Carrey, declaring, “I’ve never felt so alive, which is ironic because I’m not all that alive.”
Most of the humor was less about politics than self-awareness. Alec Baldwin’s piano moment, as Trump singing a tender rendition of the Village People’s “Macho Man,” paid homage to “SNL’s” response to Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016: Kate McKinnon, as Clinton, somberly singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
And hey everybody, as long as we have Jim Carrey here, let’s have him flash back to a greatest hit from his breakout film “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective” — yes, the one from 1994 — and do another four-syllable version of the word “LOOOOOSSSERRRR.”