The Best Dave Chappelle Jokes That Captured Racism
The significance of Dave Chappelle's comeback can be summed up by just two sentences he said last month.
During a party he threw at NBA All-Star Weekend, he said,
I turned down $50 million and floundered for 10 years. And I made $60 million last month.
That $60 million came in a deal he made with Netflix, in exchange for three comedy specials. The first one was released this week.
Yep, Dave Chappelle is back on the big stage, which means he's once again doing what he does best: entertaining us while using jokes that black people tend to laugh about among themselves, except without as great a delivery as Chappelle.
And that's the best thing about Chappelle's work -- he captures both the hilarious and frustrating aspects of being black, wraps them with jokes and delivers them better than anyone else can.
That's why it was so great to see him on the Saturday after the presidential election, when he hosted "Saturday Night Live."
Between some of the skits he performed that night, his epic three-season run on Comedy Central (plus past and present stand-up routines), the man has introduced a few golden subjects to mainstream audiences -- subjects that are usually only discussed around black people.
Here are seven of the best.
1. The OJ verdict
Time and time again, Dave Chappelle has made a punchline out of the OJ Simpson trial. The concept that he usually points at is simple: Everyone was mad except for black people.
Still, black people have seen so many terrible verdicts over the years that when a black man actually beat the justice system, even a villain getting off could feel like a win.
Add in the fact that this trial happened within the context of LA's notorious racist policing, and, well, you could see why some black people had a temptation to dance -- a temptation which Chappelle perfectly captured in the video below.
It's a little messed up, of course, which is why that sentiment is usually kept private... unless Chappelle is on stage.
2. The racial draft
Speaking of OJ, we can't forget the "Racial Draft," which is one of the more memorable skits from "The Chappelle Show."
If we're speaking seriously, it's impolite to say someone is not "black enough."
OK, but at the same time, if we're talking jokes, there are definitely some people who reject their blackness so much that they might as well be claimed by another race. That's what made the racial draft (which portrayed fictional trades featuring guys like Tiger Woods) so great.
Over a decade after it first aired, the draft still lives on today through some pretty hilarious tweets.
Yup, Dirk Nowitzki wearing a dashiki made him a first round pick for us.
3. Giving liberals the side-eye
If there was one thing that was pretty bemusing to see after that presidential election, it was all the people that decided THIS, in 2016, was the thing that proved America was racist.
pic.twitter.com/0bMoCIi7bD — Joseph Milord (@JoeMilord) November 15, 2016
Chappelle perfectly portrayed the side-eye that ridiculous assertion deserved, with a little help from Chris Rock, during that wonderful post-election performance for "SNL."
4. Keeping it real
Before "micro aggressions" was even a popular term on social media, Chappelle knocked the subject out of the park with his perfect skit, "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong."
Chappelle hilariously portrayed two realities: Number one, there are so many subtle, but disrespectful, things black people hate hearing in the office place.
Number two, we know damn well if any one of us vents that frustration one day, it might mean getting fired.
5. The childishness n-word censorship
The n-word is definitely a racial slur, especially when used in certain contexts.
However, the way society obsesses over censoring the word, compared to an apathy to censor actual racism, is pretty ridiculous.
As a black person, that irony is really frustrating to think about sometimes, but Chappelle turned that frustration into hilarity with yet another one of his brilliant skits called, "The Niggar Family."
Making a family's name into a homophone, and seeing how the racism was still obvious, even while using technically proper language, landed home his points.
The intent matters way more than the words.
6. Tupac is definitely alive
It's one of the funniest, most ridiculous, yet widely circulated conspiracy theories in black circles: Tupac is still alive.
One of the things that made this actually believable is when the Tupac albums that were released posthumously had eerily contemporary lyrics.
The feeling is like, how does he know? Chappelle rapping like Tupac in his "Lost Episodes" for Comedy Central nailed that conspiracy theory dead in the water.
7. The "salt"
With his comeback (and his press tour highlighting said comeback), Chappelle summed up another frustration: the feeling of being "trapped."
During this interview with Gayle King, his use of "hanging onto salt" as a metaphor for being used is one that can definitely resonate to a lot of people.
Sure, anyone can feel trapped and stuck in life. But there's a particular feeling that comes with being black in America that makes the trap look like an even more difficult task to overcome.
Again, like many frustrations, Chappelle captured this one perfectly.