Album of the Day — June 13
Dave Chappelle — 8:46
Dave Chappelle — 8:46
You are correct, this is technically speaking, not an album.
And you are also correct, it’s not music. But these aren’t always going to be about music. They will all fit within the framework of what might be considered an album, but these posts will always be about particular work by artists that should be looked at more closely.
8:46 fits into that category.
My personal feelings about Dave Chappelle are irrelevant, but in the spirit of full disclosure they are as follows:
I think Chappelle’s Show is one of the funniest sketch comedy shows in history. Full stop.
I like and appreciate his stand-up. He is one of the best in history, no one is silly enough to say anything different. Facts are facts.
I don’t always like his stand-up — so I would not qualify as a Chappelle purist OR apologist.
Out of the gate, Chappelle makes it clear, this isn’t jokey-joke time. He sets the tone with a story comparing his :35 of fear during the Northridge earthquake in 1994 and the 8:46 of George Floyd’s murder.
Listening to Chappelle admonish CNN host Don Lemon for commentary about questioning where the Black celebrities are during this time gave me pause. Just yesterday I wrote about how we can often look to artists to use their medium to make sense of current culture. But the pause was brief.
While I DO think artists (not celebrities … and this isn’t the forum for the semantic argument between the two) have a louder microphone, I DO NOT think they are under any obligation to comment on events artistically or otherwise … unless they want to.
Chappelle says as much when he asks: “Does anybody really give a fuck what Ja Rule has to say?”
With that said, Dave Chappelle does use his microphone … and yes, we do care what he as to say … because he’s been talking about this kind of shit his entire career.
The significance of 8:46 to the comedian is profound. It connects that length with his rage. It’s real.
As bystanders, we may subconsciously know that this moment of civil unrest, isn’t necessarily about George Floyd … but he is the catalyst. Dave Chappelle is much blunter:
“It’s for all of it. Fucking … all of it.”
The story of LAPD officer Chris Dorner was not one I knew. It’s jarring. The connection Chappelle makes between how 400 cops showed up to take down Dorner is worth your time alone. The connection he makes is not an easy line to draw and it’s a harder one to speak publicly … but he does.
You can’t really argue with Dave Chappelle's thoughts about FOX News host Laura Ingram. ‘Nuff said.
While there is humor in 8:46 it’s not a “comedy special”. This is social commentary, a history lesson, and a clarion call. And it’s one we needed from a voice we yearned to hear it from.
It would be a mistake not to comment on Dave Chappelle’s word choices such as the “n” word and “bitches”. Chappelle is a smart dude, so these choices are deliberate … but copping their usage as simply being part of the Black vernacular is problematic for me.
I’m not a politically correct lunatic, and within the context of a joke, I understand humor and appreciate how artists push and challenge social mores … within the context of social commentary, it’s a little more peculiar. It’s not wrong, they’re just words and we ascribe the meaning to them …
But I’m a white guy, who the fuck am I to say anything about it? His art, his word choices … how I choose to interpret or accept them is on me, not him.
His commentary on the National Rifle Association is important. Do you know when the only time that organization has ever championed a ban on assault rifles?
It was in 1967 when armed Black Panthers stormed the state capital in California.
Where the fuck was the NRA when armed white people stormed the Michigan state capital with assault rifles?
Dave Chappelle saves a special dose of vitriol for Black conservative commentator and political activist Candace Owens, who recently felt compelled to highlight George Floyd’s criminal record.
African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.
In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.
If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40%.
To Candace Owens, I would say: “Show me a Black man that hasn’t been arrested, or at least harassed by cops, and I’ll show you at least a dozen white men who weren’t even bothered for the same offense.”
Nothing, regardless of criminal record, would ever warrant the 8:46 lynching of a restrained Black man … by a self-proclaimed “peace officer.”
Fuck Candace Owens.
Much of Chappelle’s comedy is built around his experiences as a Black man. His ability to mine those experiences and turn the anger and frustration into relatable comedy for both Black and white folks is unique.
That said, let me reiterate 8:46 is not a comedy. What makes 8:46 different, and significant is that this is Dave Chappelle working through his anger … recorded on June 6, he hasn’t had the time to process it all and weave that anger into comedy.
But the truth is, there isn’t anything funny about this moment, and while part of me hopes he does work this anger into jokes, another part of me hopes he doesn’t.
As peculiar and macabre as my sense of humor is, even I’m struggling to find the access road to humor here.
Nonetheless, all of me hopes that this time, maybe we can see real change. No, I don’t know what that change looks like and neither does anyone else. But I suspect many of us agree that it’s time.
I’m not that optimistic because well … you know, America … we’re racist.
I’m a middle-aged white guy, what do I know from racism? Nothing. I got pissed the other day when the local barista threatened not to serve me again if I forgot my face mask again.
I know as liberal or progressive as I want to proclaim myself, I’m part of the problem.
Comedy is a mix of many things, depending on the comedian. Some of my favorite comedians derive their comedy from anger.
8:46 may never become comedy from Dave Chappelle because it isn’t derived from anger — it IS anger.
If you have not seen it, you should. Here:
But if you’re hellbent for funny:
Back in 1984, Eddie Murphy used his platform at SNL to address racial disparity. “White Like Me” is still one of the strongest, and funniest, pieces of social commentary: