Dave Chappelle’s 8:46

Arguably the best comedian of his generation is not kidding around.

Yesterday morning, Netflix released this 27 minute, 20 second video of Dave Chappelle’s new release.

I watched the first few minutes early yesterday morning intending to watch the whole thing with my wife in the evening. It turns out, however, that the 27:20 was the whole thing. Indeed, it’s not even on the Netflix app, just on the network’s YouTube channel.

The conceit is that Dave is working out a new routine in front of some friends and family. It comes with a note: “Normally I wouldn’t show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand.” After seeing it, I do.

For the most part, the routine isn’t funny. It’s not meant to be. And that’s part of the point.

At one point, he excoriates those who are demanding that celebrities like him speak out on the horrific events that led to the latest round of protests. His initial instinct is that it’s time for celebrities to get out of the way and let “the streets” do the talking. He relents, though, and says that the reason people want to hear from him is that we trust him because, unlike so many in designated leadership roles, he never lies to us.

But I think the clip has value beyond that. It’s not just that we value his raw, unvarnished authenticity but, because he’s been doing it on a national stage since he was very young, we think we know him. Seeing his rage and pain will, hopefully, provide some perspective that’s hard for people to get without personal connection.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Humor, Popular Culture, Race and Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Chappelle is clearly on another level when it comes to blending social commentary with Humor. The guy is brilliant.

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  2. EddieInCA says:

    I’m commented several times on this forum, and a few others, that it’s so hard – SO FREAKING HARD – to get white people to understand – REALLY UNDERSTAND – how dehumanizing it is being constantly confronted with racism. That’s the word I’ve settle on: dehumanizing.

    It seems as though George Floyd’s death has, finally, gotten a large segment of white America to notice and advocate for change – even superficially. For the first time, they really saw and understood the dehumanization of one particular man – because they saw it on their cell phones and computers in almost real time.

    Chappelle has always had a good pulse on the current zeitgeist. This is no exception.

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  3. An Interested Party says:

    It’s ironic that Chappelle attacks Don Lemon for asking celebrities to speak out on this issue while at the same Chappelle himself speaks out on this issue…James touches on this when he talks about how valuable it is for Chappelle to talk about this issue…

    1
  4. Kurtz says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I’m commented several times on this forum, and a few others, that it’s so hard – SO FREAKING HARD – to get white people to understand – REALLY UNDERSTAND – how dehumanizing it is being constantly confronted with racism.

    I find it fascinating that you find yourself having to explain this here. I know the ideological/partisan mix of the comment section has been different in the past from what it is now, but it still seems as if it shouldn’t really need to be described to the current regulars.

    To me, this is evidence that the legacy of racism within this country’s history isn’t just a part of it–it isn’t a human imperfection interwoven with noble ideals–it isn’t a few warps and wefts in a larger tapestry. It is the fabric; it is the stitching; it is the design; it is the pattern.

    Every fiber of the flag stained by blood and drenched in the tears of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters; every speck of dirt fallowed by corrosive acidity; every institution erected upon sandstone.

    When your own allies, unintentionally and without malice, deny your experience, their skepticism points to an intrinsic problem in the American identity.

    Acidic soil; strange fruit.

    Either we are all free or none of us are.

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  5. Mu Yixiao says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I’m commented several times on this forum, and a few others, that it’s so hard – SO FREAKING HARD – to get white people to understand – REALLY UNDERSTAND – how dehumanizing it is being constantly confronted with racism. That’s the word I’ve settle on: dehumanizing.

    Please define what you consider to be “racism” so we know how to respond.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kurtz:

    My interpretation of what Eddie is saying, is that there is a difference in acknowledging and knowing that minorities face racism and internalizing that knowledge so that we move past the intellectual arguments against racism and even empathy towards minorities. For many, if not most whites, we can go through our daily lives and not interact with a minority. Racism is abstract unless you’re a minority who approaches or is approached by a white stranger, the minority has no idea whether the following interaction will be pleasant, neutral or hostile. Talk about an anxiety promoting way to live.

    1
  7. TastyBits says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I guess you have seen the news, by now. I wish I could tell you it will get better. but it won’t. If Ahmaud Arbery were a dog or the Minneapolis PD were systemically abusing animals, white people would fix the problem. (Honestly, ask Michael Vick.)

    Most white people have never been in a situation where they are the minority – work, school, restaurant, store, neighborhood. Having experienced it allows a person to have a much better understanding, but it is not the same as what you must go through.

    Racism: being considered a second, third, fourth class citizen; being assumed to be a criminal; being afforded less respect than a dog; being humiliated and degraded everyday.

    It is not simply racists wearing white sheets and burning crosses. It is the salesperson watching you to ensure that you do not steal something. It is the landlord assuming that you are going to trash the place. It is the financial industry that is legally allowed to loan shark. It is the white people assuming that these things do not happen to their ‘black friends’.

    It is often subtle but persuasive, and it is dehumanizing.

    I don’t have to endure what you do, but I think I get it. In any case, be careful, and if you are in New Orleans, stay the f*ck away from NOPD.

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  8. EddieInCA says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    @Kurtz:
    @TastyBits:

    Racism: being considered a second, third, fourth class citizen; being assumed to be a criminal; being afforded less respect than a dog; being humiliated and degraded everyday.

    It is not simply racists wearing white sheets and burning crosses. It is the salesperson watching you to ensure that you do not steal something. It is the landlord assuming that you are going to trash the place. It is the financial industry that is legally allowed to loan shark. It is the white people assuming that these things do not happen to their ‘black friends’.

    It is often subtle but persuasive, and it is dehumanizing.

    Actual event that happened to me:

    I was 21, shopping at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC. I was working at ABC Television on 7th Avenue, and I go to Bergdorf after work. I still had my afro then (I still had alot of hair). Security Guard come up to me and says, and I quote: “This isn’t the store for you. You need to leave. Now.” I was wearing sweats, a hoodie and sneakers as I had worked out. That happened almost 40 years ago, and it still infuriates me, and it still makes me sad at the same time. I was so fvcking proud of getting that job – this kid from East LA, working in Manhattan in NY, and Century City in LA. And I wanted to buy a shirt at Bergdorf Goodman. I wanted something nice. And this guy told me I didn’t belong. 40 years later, it still hurts. And that’s NOTHING compared to what my African American friends have gone through, and still go through.

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  9. TastyBits says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I am a white guy, but I look like a biker. About 10 years ago, my wife and I were in Gatlinburg, and every store we went into, we were followed. The first time it might have been an over eager clerk, but after the third store, it was apparent we were being followed.

    Because I am white, I could have shaved, changed into bermuda shorts, and put on sandals with socks. but if I was black, I could never change my skin color. So, I understand that it is not the same, but until that moment, I never understood ‘profiling’.

    For me, it was creepy, and I do not think that I can convey how demeaning it was to somebody who has never experienced it. I cannot experience what you did, but I have an idea of what you are feeling. Most white people have never experienced anything similar, and they cannot understand how these ‘small cuts’ do not go away.

    You have entire communities with years and decades of these ‘small cuts’. They heal, but the scar tissue is thin. Then, an event occurs causing it to be torn open again, but the outsiders (mostly white) only see the single event. To them, the eruption caused by the years of ‘small cuts’ seems disproportionate to the event. Many want to help, but they focus on the event.

    When I see the George Floyd video, I do not see a cop murdering a black man. I see a cop doing the same shit he did the day before, week before, month before, etc., and if he had applied less pressure for less time, he would be doing the same shit the day after, week after, month after, etc. The other cops did nothing because they saw the same shit the day before, week before, month before, etc., and they thought he would apply less pressure for less time.

    There will be marching, talking, and praying. Before long, everybody will get back to life as before, and after the next incident, there will be marching, talking, and praying. In between, there will be people being treated as if they were less than animals.

    I do not know how to fix it, but I am fairly certain that marching, talking, and praying ain’t gonna do it. I know a lot of people are hurting, but we have been here before, and before that, and before that, and …

    9
  10. Joe says:

    When I was in my late 20s (a long time ago), I lived in NE Washington, DC. I used to drive by a couple of bars in my neighborhood almost next door to each other that were clearly “black” bars. I had a free weekend evening so I walked down to the bars and spent the evening in one and then the other. I was the only white person in either bar or probably on the block. I got all sorts of different reactions from the regulars that went all the way from nice of you to check in to aggressively what the hell are you doing here and maybe you shouldn’t be here. A lot of people just ignored me, but I felt very seen. It was an interesting experience for me but it would be a very wearing way to live a life.

    2
  11. Kurtz says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    that seems fair. I wasn’t really doing an interpretive exercise in my post.

    I think the @Mu Yixiao: post is pretty indicative of what both Jim and Eddie are talking about here. I suspect it didn’t draw a response from anyone because it was going to be difficult to keep any post civil.