At least one part of this week’s election whirlwind will feel like déjà vu: Comedian Dave Chappelle is returning to the SNL stage again this weekend, taking the helm of the show post-Election Day just as he did in 2016.
Chappelle’s opening monologue is expected to set the mood for the show. In 2016, after Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton but beat her in Electoral College votes, Chappelle’s tone was reassuring and, to some people’s surprise, conciliatory.
“I’m wishing Donald Trump luck,” the award-winning comedian said at the time. “And I’m going to give him a chance, and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one, too.”
Well, we see how that turned out.
As of Monday morning, Variety reports that the musical guest for SNL’s Nov. 7th live show has yet to be announced. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Chappelle may have been testing out his material this past weekend in the ATL. Chappelle, who recently won an Emmy for his 2019 Netflix stand-up special Sticks and Stones, did multiple (limited capacity) shows at the Atlanta Comedy Theater. The club was capped at 100 attendees a night for the socially-distanced shows as club-goers and personnel were required to take COVID-19 rapid-testing in the parking lot. Four more shows have been added for Monday and Tuesday night.
“I would say the content was a bit darker and serious than some of his other shows,” one audience member told the AJC. “It was leaning heavily on politics and he talked about the election quite a bit.” He also reportedly discussed race and transgender issues.
Given his terrible track-record on gender and LGBTQ “jokes,” I personally hope he leaves that material at home. But if his practice sets are any indication—as well as his most recent comedy special, 8:46, in which he addressed the police killing of George Floyd—Chappelle’s monologue come Saturday may likely be a pointed, if not sobering set. Either way, it will be his job, once again, to usher in SNL’s audience into our new, post-election reality—whatever that may be.