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Dave Chappelle brings political bite, sincerity to ‘SNL’ monologue

Editor’s note: The video included with this story contains strong language.

Comedian Dave Chappelle was in top form in his return to television.

As host of this week’s “Saturday Night Live,” Chappelle didn’t disappoint. He was acerbic. He was earnest. He was political. Above all, he was funny.

“I didn’t know that Donald Trump was going to win the election,” Chappelle said during the show’s opening monologue. “I did suspect it. Seemed like Hillary was doing well in the polls, and yet . . . I know the whites. You guys aren’t as full of surprises as you used to be.”


White people, he said, haven’t been this angry since the O.J. Simpson verdict.

“I watched a white riot in Portland, Ore., on television the other night,” he said “The news said they did a million dollars worth of damage and every black person was watching that like, ‘amateurs.’ ”

Chappelle is known for his Comedy Central series “Chappelle’s Show,” which launched in 2003 and garnered accolades for its commentary on culture and race.

On Saturday, he offered prayers for former Celebrity Apprentice star Omarosa. One joke included references to Grindr, ISIS, and the Wu-Tang Clan. He referred to President-elect Trump as “an Internet troll,” although he said he has no plans to move out of the country.

“Nah, I’m good, dog, I’m going to get this tax break, see how that works out,” he said.

Chappelle said he was staying in a Trump hotel to perform on “SNL.” In a reference to one of the most lewd controversies of the campaign, Chappelle joked that he greeted housekeepers at the hotel by grabbing a “big handful of [expletive]” before telling them “Boss said it was OK.”

Yes, there was a punchline about Harambe, the Internet’s favorite gorilla who was shot death at a Cincinnati zoo earlier this year.


“Cincinnati police said, ‘shooting that gorilla is the toughest decision this department has ever had to make.’ I said you about to see a lot of [expletives] in gorilla costumes in Cincinnati.”

He offered a take on Black Lives Matter: “I admit, it’s not the best slogan, but McDonald’s already took ‘you deserve a break today.’ ”

He dismissed the idea of a “Blue Lives Matter” movement.

“What was you, born a police? That is not a blue life. That is a blue suit. If you don’t like it, take that suit off and find a new job,” he said.

Chappelle ended the monologue on an earnest note, recalling a recent BET-sponsored party at the White House where everyone was black, “except for Bradley Cooper for some reason.”

“I saw how happy everybody was, these people who had been historically disenfranchised,” he said. “And it made me feel hopeful. And it made me feel proud to be an American. And it made me very happy about the prospects of our country.

“So, in that spirit, I’m wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance. And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one, too.”

It wasn’t the only affecting part of the show. In the cold open, Kate McKinnon, playing Hillary Clinton, performed a variation of “Hallelujah,” which was written by Leonard Cohen, who died last week.

Speaking to the camera, faux-Clinton ended the cold open by saying “I’m not giving up, and neither should you.”


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dmc_bos