After a week of intense buildup, full of alleged writer boycotts and social media anger, Dave Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live on Saturday and it went as expected.
The comedian delivered a monologue that showcased his masterful audience control, while his jokes were a mixture of incisive commentary and provocative statements.
The monologue’s sections on the Jewish community, however, drew the anger of the Anti-Defamation League chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt, who tweeted his critique of Chappelle following the episode.
“We shouldn’t expect @DaveChappelle to serve as society’s moral compass, but disturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalize but popularize #antisemitism,” he tweeted (see below). “Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?”
Chappelle’s monologue jokes about the Jewish community could easily be perceived as inflammatory, but does such a comedian deserve to be censored as a result? Jon Stewart, renowned political commentator and rather famous Jewish celebrity, doesn’t think so.
Stewart fiercely defended Dave Chappelle while on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, although he did admit that he was “good friends” with the comedian (as per Variety).
“Everybody calls me like, ‘You see Dave on SNL?’ And I say yes, we’re very good friends. I always watch and send nice texts,” Stewart started. “‘He normalized antisemitism with the monologue.’
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“I don’t know if you’ve been on comment sections on most news articles, but it’s pretty normal. It’s incredibly normal. But the one thing I will say is I don’t believe that censorship and penalties are the way to end antisemitism or to gain understanding. I don’t believe in that. It’s the wrong way for us to approach it.”
As Stewart pointed out, he’s also been accused of being antisemitic in the past. “Dave said something in the SNL monologue that I thought was constructive, which he says, ‘It shouldn’t be this hard to talk about things,’” he continued. “I’m called antisemitic because I’m against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
“I’m called other things from other people based on other opinions that I have, but those shut down debate… Whether it be comedy or discussion or anything else, if we don’t have the wherewithal to meet each other with what’s reality then how do we move forward?
“If we all just shut it down, then we retreat to our little corners of misinformation and it metastasizes. The whole point of all this is to not let it metastasize and to get it out in the air and talk about it.”
We shouldn't expect @DaveChappelle to serve as society's moral compass, but disturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalize but popularize #antisemitism. Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 13, 2022