The post Jon Stewart Defends Dave Chappelle’s SNL Monologue, Spars with Colbert over Kanye, Kyrie: Watch appeared first on Consequence.
As antisemitism becomes an increasingly public problem and #TheJews keeps trending on Twitter, Jon Stewart sat down with his old protege Stephen Colbert on The Late Show to talk Dave Chappelle’s recent SNL monologue, Kanye West’s many troubling comments, and the conspiracy theories of basketball superstar Kyrie Irving.
Colbert framed the more-than-12-minute interview around the increase in “casual antisemitism” in the public discourse. Stewart said, “The Kanye thing, he can be erratic and that didn’t surprise me. The Kyrie thing surprised me a bit. You don’t expect to get it from someone named Irving.” Colbert almost broke.
The first half of Stewart’s remarks took the form of a comedic monologue (“It’s my sincere hope that in my lifetime we do get to see a Christian president,” he quipped) while the second, more serious half revealed some disagreements between the two humorists.
Stewart addressed Chappelle’s SNL monologue, which was criticized by representatives of the Anti-Defamation League. Chappelle began his latest hosting stint by saying, “I denounce antisemitism in all its forms and I stand with my friends in the Jewish community,” before adding, “And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time.” At one point he remarked, “If they’re Black, then it’s a gang. If they’re Italian, it’s a mob. But if they’re Jewish, it’s a coincidence and you should never speak about it.”
Chappelle also joked that “if you had some kind of issue, you might go out to Hollywood and start connecting some kind of lines and you could maybe adopt the illusion that Jews run show business.”
“It’s not a crazy thing to think,” he said. “But it’s a crazy thing to say out loud.”
Stewart said he’d had several conversations about the monologue. “Everybody obviously calls me, ‘Did you see Dave on SNL?’ And I’m like, yes, we’re very good friends, I always watch and send nice texts. ‘Well, he normalized antisemitism with the monologue.’ And I’m like, I don’t know if you’ve been on comment sections on most news articles, but it’s pretty fucking normal.”
As an example, the host of The Problem with Jon Stewart talked about Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who had posted about Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up America, conspiracy-laden media which suggests, among other things, that Black people are the true children of God who have been robbed of their status by usurping Jews. Irving was suspended by the NBA on November 3rd.
Stewart said, “I don’t believe that censorship and penalties are the way to end antisemitism or to gain understanding. I don’t believe in that. I think it’s the wrong way to approach it. Kyrie Irving, they suspended him from basketball. If you want to punish him, send him to the Knicks.”
He added, “Penalizing somebody for having a thought, I don’t think it’s the way to change their minds or gain understanding. This is a grown ass man. The idea that we’re going to say to him, ‘We’re going to put you in a time out. You have to sit in a corner and stare at the wall until you no longer believe that Jews control the international banking system?'”
“Look, people think this,” he continued. “People think Jews control Hollywood. People think Jews control the banks. And to pretend that they don’t, and to not deal with it in a straightforward manner, we’ll never gain any kind of understanding with each other.”
Colbert pressed him, “Well what do you imagine a straightforward manner would be? People have the right to say whatever they want. I’ve said that. Also any comic has a right to say anything they want, and they’ll probably find an audience for that. That’s been born out the last few years. So what is the response? Because people have the right to have a negative reaction to what people say on stage.”
“Well, first of all, I think just reflexively naming things antisemitism is as reductive as some of the things they might be saying,” Stewart responded. “It immediately shuts down a conversation.”
Colbert pushed back, saying people perceived “a promulgation of antisemitic tropes. That doesn’t mean the person is an antisemite.”
“Comedy is reductive,” Stewart said. “We play with tropes. Everyone has prejudice in their lives and the way they view things. Comics rely on those prejudices as a shorthand for our material. Even the wokest of comics plays with tropes to a certain extent.”
He continued, “The most interesting thing to come out of this in my mind was something Kanye says… He said something fascinating in my mind, he said, ‘Hurt people hurt people.’ If the point of all this is to heal people, the only way to heal a wound is to open it up and cleanse it. And that stings. That hurts. But you have to expose it to air. And I’m afraid that the general tenor of conversation in this country is cover it up, bury it, put it to the outskirts, and don’t deal with it.”
“Dave said something in the SNL monologue that I thought was constructive as well,” Steward added. “He says, ‘It shouldn’t be this hard to talk about things.’ Look, I can’t pretend that there aren’t a shitton of people in this country and this world who believe that the Jews have an unreasonable amount of control over the systems and they wield it as puppetmasters. I’m called antisemitic because I’m against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians… Those shut down debate. They’re used as a cudgel.”
It is not Colbert’s style to monologue over his guests, but it seemed as if he wanted Stewart to be less theoretical and more concrete in how to handle these kinds of problematic people. If not a suspension, if not criticism, then what? We might add, while lengthy conversations with experts would be an ideal approach, there are not nearly enough resources in the world to deal with every antisemite in the manner in which Stewart recommends.
As they ran out of time, Stewart joked, “I know you don’t like Jews. I can see it in your eyes.”
“Really, just one of you,” Colbert replied.
“I know you disagree with this,” Stewart said. Colbert replied, “I don’t disagree with you, Jon, I just wanted to say: I denounce antisemitism in all its forms and I stand with my friends in the Jewish community.” With that callback to Chappelle, they cut to commercial. Check out their conversation below.