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In a new special, Dave Chappelle says he trusts ‘the streets’ to speak, not celebs

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle released a new Netflix special Friday.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

With no advance notice, Dave Chappelle launched a new comedy special on Friday. In a 27-minute set titled “8:46,” he addresses the murder of George Floyd, the ensuing nationwide protests and the fact that he has been silent about it all until now.

The outdoors show — complete with a live, masked and socially distanced audience — is his first concert-style performance in 87 days. It is also one of the first live performances of any type in North America since COVID-19 struck. “Normally I wouldn’t show you something so unrefined,” the comic says in a note on the Netflix Is a Joke YouTube channel, where the set can be found. “I hope you understand.”

Chappelle starts with a shout-out to the protesters in the streets. He shifts to Floyd’s death, saying, “It’s hard to figure out what to say about George Floyd so I’m not gonna say it yet.” Then he changes his mind and clarifies, “I’ll say something,” followed by a heavy sigh.

“Who are you talking to? What are you signifying?” he asks. “That you can kneel on a man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and feel like you wouldn’t get the wrath of God. That’s what is happening right now. It’s not for a single cop. It’s for all of it.”

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In a furious, unfunny 27-minute set posted to the Netflix Is a Joke YouTube page, Dave Chappelle traces a path from slavery to the death of George Floyd.

After comparing the nearly nine minutes that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled knelt on Floyd’s neck to the 35-second Northridge earthquake that terrified him in 1994, Chappelle discusses the role of celebrities in the Black Lives Matter movement. He feels their words pale in comparison to protesters’ actions.

The comic challenges CNN anchor Don Lemon’s recent question about where wealthy celebrities were within the movement, saying, “He expects me to step in front of the streets and talk over the work those people are doing, as a celebrity?”

“The streets are talking for themselves,” Chappelle says. “They don’t need me right now.”

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Chappelle also addresses conservative commentator Candace Owens’ video on Facebook about why George Floyd is not a martyr.

White people, not Black people, chose Floyd as a hero, he says. “You killed him, and that wasn’t right, so he’s the guy.” (Four former police officers, two of whom are white, have been charged in connection Floyd’s death.)

Chappelle wraps up the show with mentions of Kobe Bryant and corrects what he said during his 2016 “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut about the small number of Black people who have been guests in the White House, adding an incident that he forgot to mention involving his grandfather, William David Chappelle.

His final salute to protesters? “These streets will speak for themselves, whether I’m alive or dead. I trust you guys,” he said. The special then closes with scenes from recent protests — scenes from the streets themselves.


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