Stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle made headlines yesterday, when it was announced that he’d be hosting next week’s Saturday Night Live, a rare TV appearance for the reclusive Chappelle’s Show star. Shortly after the announcement, Chappelle did a gig at New York’s Cutting Room on Friday night, where he performed a politically charged set that was largely critical of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Noting that he’d voted for Clinton, but “didn’t feel good” about it, Chappelle spent much of the set discussing the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which Donald Trump was heard joking with Billy Bush about the ways his celebrity status gave him access to women’s bodies. On stage—as reported by Observer—Chappelle criticized the common media interpretation of that message:
Sexual assault? It wasn’t. He said, ”And when you’re a star, they let you do it.” That phrase implies consent. I just don’t like the way the media twisted that whole thing. Nobody questioned it.
Chappelle also accused the Clinton camp of leaking the tape, and criticized the way Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz questioned Trump during the subsequent debate. “Something about this was backward. A gay white man and a white woman asking a multi-billionaire how he knows the system is rigged and insisting it’s not. Does that sound right to you? It didn’t seem right to me.” He also praised Trump’s storied braggadocio: “And here’s how you know Trump is the most gangsta candidate ever. They asked him how he knows the system is rigged and he said, ‘Because I take advantage of it.’ He may as well have flashed his membership card for the Illuminati right then.”
Chappelle also discussed the rise of movements focused on women’s, gay, and transgender rights, saying, “They should not be having that conversation in front of black people. You go ahead and feel something about your rights. But if you’re putting sexism and homophobia and transphobia in front of racism, you should be ashamed of yourself.” He did voice his opposition to “bathroom” laws like the one in North Carolina, though: “If you need to show your birth certificate to take a dump at a Wal-Mart in North Carolina,” he said, “That’s insane.”
Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live is set to tape on November 12.
UPDATE: A representative for Chappelle has issued a statement to Variety about the media reaction to his set. “Dave is disgusted by the tone of the election and especially by the idea that his comedy would be misconstrued to defend [Donald T]rump. His comedy show blasted both candidates. By the way, he voted for Hillary.”