Dave Chappelle Explains the Hazards of Comedy in a Cornfield on “SNL”

Chappelle covered everything from the pandemic to Ronald Reagan

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle hosted the latest "Saturday Night Live."

As Saturday Night Live attempts to return to a semblance of normalcy during a time when the pandemic remains a serious concern, a few trends have emerged. One has been the presence of numerous rock bands of a certain vintage as the musical guest; another is an abundance of comedians as episode hosts. This season has already seen Bill Burr and John Mulaney at the center of episodes, and last night, it was Dave Chappelle’s turn.

At a time there are valid concerns over how many people it’s safe to have on stage at any given time, having 10 to 15 minutes of a given episode dedicated to letting a popular comedian do their thing makes sense for a host of reasons.

Chappelle’s monologue covered a lot of ground, including nods to the election and the pandemic. He also spoke about the outdoor shows he’s been doing in Ohio, which have helped the local economy, but also drew concerns over noise, despite their location. “I had to have a whole town meeting about how noisy I was being in a cornfield,” Chappelle recalled. “It was so embarrassing.”

Chappelle returned to the subject of masks — both literal and figurative — repeatedly. Halfway through, he segued from a discussion of pandemic measures to a more stark and personal note. “You don’t want to wear the mask because it’s oppressive? Try wearing the mask I’ve been wearing all these years,” he said. “I can’t even tell something true unless there’s a punchline behind it.”

By the time his set reached its conclusion, though, things took a more serious turn. And while there was a punchline present there, it was Chappelle’s thoughts on depression and feeling cut off from others that ultimately lingered.

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