Earlier today, it was confirmed that Dave Chappelle will host next weekend’s Saturday Night Live alongside A Tribe Called Quest. This is a long-awaited return for both, even though they’ve remained busy; Chappelle never quite left comedy, he just left TV, and Tribe’s members never stopped doing provocative, forward-thinking work, they just stopped doing it together.
Mostly, though, this means Dave Chappelle is returning to sketch comedy, a form he utterly mastered across the span of two and a half seasons of Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show. His sketches were at once scabrous and generous, finding pathos in ugly places and outrage in unexamined ones. It couldn’t be more fitting that he’s returning to the form the weekend after a racist demagogue is either elected president or sent slithering back into his penthouse.
So, hey, instead of working, let’s watch a bunch of Chappelle’s Show sketches, because they have only gotten better and more trenchant in the intervening 12 years.
“I look at them and—they had on the same shit they had at the club!” You probably have most of “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” about Prince memorized, but re-watch it for its blend of surrealist meta-humor and shaggy-dog left turns.
“Bucknasty, what can I say about that suit that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan?” “Playa Haters’ Ball” does a full Christopher Guest competition mockumentary in less than seven minutes, and Chappelle’s closing monologue is a spite-filled thing of glory, with more inventive invective than an Armando Iannucci script.
Revisit Tupac’s purportedly posthumous “I Wrote This In ’94” in the post-hologram era, if only to see Chappelle’s wordless journey from disconcerted to exasperated.
It’s difficult to imagine how the Clayton Bigsby sketch would be received in 2016. As incendiary as it is, Chappelle finds a convincing, almost empathetic spot from which to portray the black white supremacist.
Let’s not forget how on-point Chappelle’s music curation was through the whole run, a preoccupation he’s carried into his post-Comedy Central work, and which was, one must assume, part of the impetus for his return to the public eye alongside Tribe. On his own show, though, Chappelle would always sit to the side and vibe during the performance. Here’s a young Kanye literally cooking some shit up alongside Common:
In 2004, you sort of had to do a Howard Dean sketch, but that didn’t stop Chappelle from nailing the “BYAAAH!” a dozen increasingly funny times.
“Do I even need to tell you what a motherfucker can do with some metal tubes?” President Black Bush retains all of George W. Bush’s penchant for war crimes but none of his duplicitous anti-intellectual doublespeak. Stay tuned for Mos Def’s guest spot as “Black Head of the C.I.A.”
A shocking amount of this stuff is free on Comedy Central’s website. Let us know what we missed below.