Stand-up comedy has emerged to become a popular, recognizable form of entertainment across the world- from open mic nights to Netflix specials, there will always be a performer pitching their one-liners into a crowd and hoping that their punchline goes over well. For comedian Dave Chappelle, redemption for his last stand-up was in order.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was a victim of police brutality after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin had knelt on his neck during an arrest for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Floyd’s death sparked protests, marches, riots, and revolution against the ongoing practice of systemic racism in America.
In response to the call for change, Chappelle addressed Floyd’s death in front of a live audience, (all wearing masks, of course), on June 6, 2020, during his moving surprise special ‘8:46.’
Chappelle’s set was keen to touch on the topics of police brutality, racism in the United States, and castigates well-known Republican figureheads, Candance Owens and Laura Ingraham. The comedian sets his initial joke on the backburner and takes the first opening minutes of his time to praise those who are out protesting against the brutality in the streets.
8:46 is the first comedy special that has been released during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it isn’t just for laughs. CNN Don Lemon was chastised by Chapelle as he’d remarked before on how Hollywood’s celebrities are too silent on police brutality, and going on to insinuate that A-List names couldn’t compare to the work that he had done. Lemon, a clear celebrity, attempted to denounce his own status, saying that he wouldn’t lead just because he is famous.
Chappelle wasn’t shy to spice his message to Lemon up, quick to recall a famous bit about Ja Rule and MTV’s pressure on celebrity activism after the 9/11 attacks. “Do we want to see a celebrity right now?” he said, “Do we give a f--- what Ja Rule thinks?” His tone then sombers some, as he addresses the expectations of celebrity activism that are expected to go hand-in-hand with social justice and global awareness.
“This is the streets talking for themselves,” Chappelle said, “they don’t need me right now. I kept my mouth shut, and I’ll keep my mouth shut.” He follows himself up by admitting to why he doesn’t know that people need to know what their favorite comedian thinks after a police officer kneeled on a man’s neck for almost nine minutes.
Told through his trademark style and accented with his hallmark delivery, Chappelle shines an alarming light on the excruciating number of police brutality cases in the course of under half an hour. From Trayvon Martin to John Crawford, a member of Chappelle’s hometown of Beaver Creek, no name falls on deaf ears.
The special can be accessed through a YouTube link below, where a simple-yet-powerful message sits in the description box: “For Dave: Normally I wouldn’t show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand.”
Story by: Annie Banks