Posted on Sunday, November 13th, 2016 by Ethan Anderton
It’s been 11 years since Dave Chappelle left behind Chappelle’s Show at Comedy Central when it was at the peak of its popularity. Chappelle was one of the most popular comedians at the time, and his show was one of the cable networks hottest commodities. But the pressure was too much, and the show was ruining his relationship with the comedy that he loved creating.
Now here we are, over a decade later, and Dave Chappelle made an outstanding return to sketch comedy as the host of Saturday Night Live. It was his first time hosting, a bucket list item according to the comedian, and I’m happy to say that the result was the best episode of the season so far.
Find out the best and worst sketches from the Dave Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live after the jump.
The Cold Open
Normally we don’t need to talk about the cold open from the show on its own, but this week it warrants commenting. After Donald Trump won the election this past week, the country has been more tense than ever. Many are lamenting his election because of what it means for certain sects of people who are already being discriminated against, emboldened by the words Trump has said on the campaign trail. So last night’s SNL opened on a somber note, with Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, singing the recently deceased Leonard Cohen’s trademark tune “Hallelujah.” She ends the wholly serious performance by saying, “I’m not giving up, and neither should you.”
While this is exactly the sentiment we all should have in the face of such fear and hate becoming more prominent in the country, I can’t help but feel conflicted about how overly dramatic SNL specifically was being after they let Donald Trump host the show last season. If they hadn’t been part of the media machine that helped normalize his behavior, then this might have been more poignant. Or if they had called themselves out for that drastic mistake, this might be more endearing. As it is, the message is strong, but it feels lessened by the show’s own blunder. Anyway, on with the show.
Walking Dead Chappelle’s Show – We already featured this by itself because it’s so damn funny, and it’s easily the best sketch of the night. What’s great though is that pretty much the entire night was full of great comedy, so this is just a cherry on top of a great sundae.
Election Night – Though there were some hiccups with timing here and there, the reality of this sketch is what made this one both heartbreaking and hilarious. What works in this sketch is what worked so well in much of Chappelle’s Show. First, there’s the layer of comedy surrounding the 20/20 hindsight about the hope people held out during Hillary Clinton’s developing loss. Then, there’s the layer of commentary from Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, mocking the drama that their white friends bring into the equation, comparing this plight to the same struggles African Americans have endured over the decades. This was just great satire.
Love and Leslie – It was extremely refreshing to have a sketch where Leslie Jones is far more reserved and vulnerable. Not only was it funny to see her matched up romantically with Kyle Mooney, but it was also super charming. This felt like the entirety of an indie romance in the span of a few minutes.
Football Party – I’ll be the first to admit that the premise of this sketch is just plain dumb. But it’s the kind of dumb that worked really well and brings some levity to end the week. The combined reactions of Alex Moffat, Kenan Thompson and Pete Davidson on the couch (as well as Kyle Mooney’s carefree attitude from the other chair) with Dave Chappelle’s earnest attitude made this work far better than it should have. Plus, the physical comedy that comes from the splashing milk was undoubtedly a guilty pleasure.