Dave Chappelle’s friend and fellow comedian Jon Stewart has come out defending the former’s controversial but highly watched ‘Saturday Night Live monologue’, which was criticised by the Anti-Defamation League for popularising anti-semitic sentiments.
During his appearance on ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’, Stewart pushed back on the belief that Chappelle “normalised anti-semitism” with his 15-minute commentary that involved Kanye West‘s and Kyrie Irving’s recent scandals, reports Vanity Fair.
“I don’t know if you’ve been on comment sections on most news articles, but it’s pretty f***ing normal. As you know, it’s incredibly normal,” Stewart said. “But the one thing I will say is, I don’t believe that censorship and penalties are the way to end anti-Semitism or to not gain understanding. I don’t believe in that, and I think it’s the wrong way for us to approach it.”
According to Vanity Fair, Stewart, who was present at the Los Angeles comedy event where Chappelle was attacked onstage after his set in May, agreed with the comic that “it shouldn’t be this hard to talk about things.”
He further mentioned: “I’m called anti-Semitic because I’m against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. I’m called other things from other people based on other opinions that I have. Whether it be comedy or discussion or anything else, if we don’t have the wherewithal to meet each other with what’s reality, then how do we move forward? If we all just shut it down, then we retreat to our little corners of misinformation and it metastasizes. And the whole point of all this is to not let it metastasize and to get it out in the air and talk about it.”
Vanity Fair further states that Colbert countered this argument, saying that while “any comic has a right to say anything they want,” viewers also “have the right to have a negative reaction to what people say onstage.” He further explained that just because people “perceived a promulgation – even with a comedic intention – of anti-semitic tropes, that doesn’t mean the person is an anti-Semite.”
Stewart then offered that people “play with tropes” and that comics like Chappelle and himself “rely on those prejudices as a shorthand for our material.” He later jokingly told Colbert: “Like, I know you don’t like Jews, I see it in your eyes.”
Following a pause, the host quipped back: “Really just one of you.” Colbert ended the segment by echoing words from the beginning of Chappelle’s monologue: “I just wanted to say that I condemn anti-Semitism in all of its forms and I stand with all of my friends in the Jewish community,” he said, adding, “a counterpoint.”