Dave Chappelle Is A Great Teacher

The following is the third prompt (open argumentation) from the 2010 AP English Language and Composition Exam.  The suggested time period for completing the prompt is 40 minutes.

Quick, eh?

It reads,

“In his 2004 book, Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton argues that the chief aim of humorists is not merely to entertain but “to convey with impunity messages that might be dangerous or impossible to state directly.” Think about the implications of de Botton’s view of the role of humorists (cartoonists, stand-up comics, satirical writers, hosts of television programs, etc.). Then write an essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies de Botton’s claim.”

And you could defend that claim by simply talking about what Dave Chappelle delivered in his monologue on November 12th’s episode of Saturday Night Live.

I miss his iconic show from Comedy Central. The Charlie Murphy stories about Rick James and Prince still make me release my bladder because of the hilarity. The episode with Wayne Brady was classic and the skit with John Mayer that explored racial differences with music was classic.

Dave Chappelle pushed envelopes and still made you ask for more.


The credibility he has a seriously smart comic who is not afraid to talk about issues, along with a perspective of society as a young black man, allied with the fact that we have not seen him in a long while on television created what I would call a teachable moment.

And this teacher learned from it. I learned that I do not understand everything. And I don’t have to. I just have to carry on.

You may see it here: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/dave-chappelle-standup-monologue/3424955.

Here are some of the things he said as Dave Itzkoff reported in the Nov. 13th issue of the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/arts/television/dave-chappelle-saturday-night-live.html?_r=0).

“I didn’t know that Donald Trump was going to win the election. I did suspect it. Seemed like Hillary was doing well in the polls and yet … I know the whites. You guys aren’t as full of surprises as you used to be.”

“America has done it. We’ve actually elected an internet troll as our president.”

“I watched a white riot in Portland, Ore., on television the other night. The news said they did $1 million worth of damage. Every black person was watching it like, ‘Amateurs.’ ”

“So I’m staying out of it. I’m just going to take a knee like Kaepernick and let the whites figure this out amongst themselves.”

Funny and as de Botton says, ““conveys with impunity messages that might be dangerous or impossible to state directly.”

Chappelle seemed like he adlibbed parts of the monologue. I am under the impression that there is a run-through of the show before it goes live so that Lorne Michaels (SNL’s creator) can make last minute changes to skit order or decide what is in and what is out before they do a live version. And then when the actual show was seen live, Chappelle changed some of what he said and got away with it.

He said things like “Grab them by the Pu**y” on live television.

Chappelle knew his audience – both the people in the studio audience and the people tuning in to see how SNL would deal with the fact that Trump won.

Chappelle reminded people who were so surprised that Hillary lost that anything is possible and that people must accept that anything is possible. And as he was creating that teachable moment, he left us with an anecdote that made the lesson sink in that much more.

Dave Itzkoff continued,

Mr. Chappelle concluded his monologue with an anecdote about how he recently visited the White House for a party that was attended by black guests (and Bradley Cooper), and how it prompted him to reflect on the historical outcries that resulted when Abraham Lincoln invited Frederick Douglass there, or when Theodore Roosevelt hosted Booker T. Washington.

Describing the party he attended, Mr. Chappelle recalled:, “I saw how happy everybody was, these people who had been historically disenfranchised. And it made me feel hopeful. And it made me feel proud to be an American. And it made me very happy about the prospects of our country.”

He continued: “So, in that spirit, I’m wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance. And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one, too.”

Chappelle’s a teacher. And I have learned lots.