Jerry Seinfeld addresses Dave Chappelle’s ‘SNL’ monologue about anti-Semitism: “It provokes a conversation”
Chappelle sparked controversy over comments he made about the Jewish community during his opening routine, with critics accusing him of “popularising” and “normalising” anti-Semitism.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Seinfeld, who is Jewish, was asked to share his thoughts on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s recent debate over Chappelle’s monologue.
“I did think the comedy was well-executed, but I think the subject matter calls for a conversation that I don’t think I’d want to have in this venue,” said Seinfeld.
Asked if the routine made him feel uncomfortable, he replied: “It provokes a conversation which hopefully is productive.”
The Seinfeld star was then asked if he planned to have a conversation with Chappelle, as the comedians appeared to have a “close relationship”.
“I don’t have a close relationship with him,” Seinfeld said. “We’re friends and it’s not a close relationship.”
In Chappelle’s SNL monologue, the comedian joked about the recent anti-Semitic remarks made by Kanye “Ye” West, saying the rapper should have apologised to “buy himself some time”.
“I’ve probably been doing this 35 years now, and early in my career I learned that there are two words in the English language you should never say together in sequence, and they are: The Jews,” Chappelle said. “I’ve never heard someone do good after they said that.”
Later in the monologue, Chappelle explained why the anti-Semitic belief that Jewish people collectively run the world is flawed, comparing it to anti-Black racism in parts of America.
“I’ve been to Hollywood and this is just what I saw: It’s a lot of Jews, like a lot,” Chappelle said. “But that doesn’t mean anything. There’s a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri, but that doesn’t mean we run the place.
“I can see if you had some kind of issue, you might go out to Hollywood and you might start connecting some lines and you could maybe adopt the delusion that Jews run show business. It’s not a crazy thing to think, but it’s a crazy thing to say out loud in a climate like this.”
His monologue has attracted criticism on social media, with some arguing that even though it comedically criticised racist ideology, it gave a platform to these harmful views.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote on Twitter: “We shouldn’t expect @DaveChappelle to serve as society’s moral compass, but disturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalise but popularise anti-Semitism. Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?”
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