John Oliver may have been responsible for making #DCPublicSchools trend on Twitter, but it was Dave Chappelle who was the first to joke about how much he hates reading during last week’s Emmy Awards. “Now I will read this teleprompter, please forgive me,” Chappelle said during that broadcast. “Shout out to D.C. Public Schools. Here we go.”
Chappelle used his disdain for teleprompters to even funnier effect at the taping for Def Comedy Jam 25 the week before in Beverly Hills. In this exclusive clip from the 25th anniversary special celebrating Russell Simmons’ legendary stand-up series, Chappelle and fellow alum D.L. Hughley manage to turn what could have been a 30-second intro from the next segment into an epic improvised riff on freedom of speech and Charlottesville.
“We’re not here to offend our audiences, but we’re not here to protect their feelings either,” Chappelle said from the stage. When Hughley said “rejection” by the majority should not be a “reason to stop” pushing boundaries through comedy, Chappelle quipped, “I wish you had said that before my third season,” referring to season three of Chappelle’s Show, from which the comedian famously walked away after just three episodes.
“What Def Comedy Jam was always willing to do was take the heat, the criticism and the hate,” Chappelle read from the prompter. “Because that’s basically just being black in America.” But while he kept it together through that sentence, he lost it when the music kicked in. “That’s just a weird line,” he added, mocking the overtly comical music choice by legendary Def Comedy Jam DJ Kid Capri that followed such a serious sentiment.
“If we told them what being black in America is, would they believe us?” Chappelle asked the star-studded audience, which included Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, Tracy Morgan, and many others, before answering his own question. “Fuck no, they wouldn’t. There’s a fucking white-supremacist starter kit at Target.” Imagining what that scene might look like, he said, in character, “‘Let me get some tiki torches, some khaki pants and a fucked up haircut, I’ve got something going on next week.’”
“It’s real right now,” he continued. “And have we seen it all before? Yep!”
“You can leave this in, too,” Chappelle told the show’s producers from the stage. Fortunately for us, they did. There’s much more where this clip came from in the full special, which premiered on Netflix today.