Jeff’s Wacky SNL Review: Dave Chappelle/Black Star

Leave a comment

We can’t see Yasiin’s face (CREDIT: NBC/Screenshot)

It’s November 2022, and it’s time to talk about an SNL episode hosted by Dave Chappelle with musical guest Black Star. The latter is a hip-hop duo made up of Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) and Talib Kweli, while the former is an oft-funny comedian who’s unfortunately now more often nowadays making headlines for making transphobic jokes on his comedy specials. So it feels a little tone-deaf to book him now, even though he’s been a perfectly hilarious SNL host in the past. We’re not going to be able to figure all that out right here right now, obviously (although it would be nice if Dave came out and said something along the lines of “Maybe I missed the mark”!), but it feels weird not to at least acknowledge it.

Anyway, for this review, I’m going to provide a simple description of my emotional response to each sketch.


Jeff’s Wacky SNL Review: Dave Chappelle/Foo Fighters

Leave a comment

SNL: Dave Chappelle, Foo Fighters (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

The last time Saturday Night Live aired a new episode on NBC the Saturday immediately after an American presidential election, the host was Dave Chappelle. And the exact same thing happened this year! Was that booking intentional? I would guess “yes.”

Back in 2016, the musical guest paired with Dave was A Tribe Called Quest in their first ever SNL appearance. But this time, the musical guest is Foo Fighters, in their 8th ever SNL appearance. Like the host, the lead singer of the Foos is also named Dave. How often have the host and musical guest on the same episode had the same first name?! I can’t think of any other time, so let’s take a beat to honor this moment.


If you’re wondering where I was at while watching this episode (and I bet you are, because I usually let you know), I got up and had a fine Sunday breakfast of scrambled eggs and buttered English muffin. It was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit outside when I got out of bed, but it was forecasted to go up by 30 degrees by the middle of the day. In November!


This Is a Movie Review: ‘A Star is Born’ is Reborn Eternally

Leave a comment

CREDIT: Warner Bros.

This review was originally published on News Cult in October 2018.

Starring: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Andrew Dice Clay, Sam Elliott, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle

Director: Bradley Cooper

Running Time: 135 Minutes

Rating: R for Mumbled Profanity, Intense Alcoholism, and a Few Intimate Moments

Release Date: October 5, 2018

Bradley Cooper’s dialogue is often difficult to understand throughout A Star is Born, and I think that is part and parcel of the sort of storytelling he is presenting here in his directorial debut. This isn’t a film that is meant to be processed perfectly concretely, in which you hang on to every last word and every frame is a piece in the puzzle. Instead, it is about the overall experience, in which you let all wash over you. Logic and slavish accounting of details are beside the point. Does it make sense that someone could so suddenly become so famous and beloved on the basis of talent alone? And how come we never know how much time has passed? These are often worthwhile questions, but A Star is Born is more concerned about emotional and aesthetic truth within its improbable framework.

This is the fourth Star is Born film, with each of them telling the story of an unknown female entertainer discovered by a famous male performer who is on a bit of a decline. In this case, country-blues-rocker Jackson Maine (Cooper) stumbles across Ally (Lady Gaga) at a drag queen bar after one of his concerts. Immediately enthralled, he brings her onstage during his show the very next night, and thus begins a massively successful career and a whirlwind romance. This edition does not introduce anything particularly groundbreaking to the Star is Born template, but it is in the retelling that it derives its power. By emerging once again into the popular consciousness, it reaches the level of myth, as the rise-fall-endure narrative is how we continue to understand and process the fame narrative.

A myth story tends to work best when it is timeless. The fact that A Star is Born is set in the present day thus makes things a little tricky. Whenever specific markers of this day and age (Ally signing to Interscope Records, Ally performing on SNL with Alec Baldwin hosting, Halsey appearing as herself as a Grammy presenter) appear, it’s a little jarring. But these moments could be even more unsettling; instead, they go along with a dreamlike quality in which everything is woven into the timeless fabric. The details could be specific, as when Ally’s first duet with Jackson goes viral and her father (Andrew Dice Clay) marvels at how many views the video has gotten online, without ever mentioning the actual number of views. But that’s the thing about a star being born: it’s not a specific number of viewers that determine it, but when enough people are watching, you can feel that the birth has happened.

A Star is Born is Recommended If You Like: Creation and Rebirth myths, Lady Gaga as person and entertainer, Actors really flexing their directorial muscles

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Discoveries


SNL Review November 12, 2016: Dave Chappelle/A Tribe Called Quest

1 Comment

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Dave Chappelle" Episode 1710 -- Pictured: Host Dave Chappelle during the monologue on November 12, 2016 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — “Dave Chappelle” Episode 1710 — Pictured: Host Dave Chappelle during the monologue on November 12, 2016 — (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

This review was originally posted on News Cult in November 2016.

Before I get into my Love It/Keep it/Leave It picks, a word on the Hillary “Hallelujah” Cold Opening, which I have chosen not to categorize. Normally when SNL forgoes a proper sketch in favor of a song for the opening, it is in the wake of a national tragedy. So add one more way in which this election is unprecedented. The song selection memorializes the recently departed Leonard Cohen, rendering this moment less depressing and more bittersweet.

Love It

Dave Chappelle’s Monologue – I guess somebody knew that Trump was going to win. That somebody? SNL’s talent booker. How else to explain how we got Dave Chappelle on the exact week that we needed him? This is not the most laugh-out he has ever been (although Bradley Cooper being the only white person at a BET-sponsored White House party is hilarious enough for the whole set), but that is fine, because he is mainly aiming for truth and strength. A lot of disappointed citizens have been struggling to say something positive while also holding on to their legitimate disappointment. By finding hope while passionately defending enfranchisement, Dave Chappelle hits that multilayered note.


What Won TV? – November 6-November 12, 2016

Leave a comment

In this feature, I look back at each day of the past week and determine what shows “won TV” for the night. That is, I consider every episode of television I watched that aired on a particular day and declare which was the best.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Dave Chappelle" Episode 1710 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kyle Mooney, Leslie Jones, and Dave Chappelle during the "Love and Leslie" sketch on November 12, 2016 -- (Photo by: Alex Schaefer/NBC)

Sunday – Westworld
Monday – Thanks for all the empathy, People of Earth.
Tuesday – Jeopardy!
Wednesday – black-ish
Thursday – Better Things
Friday – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Saturday – SNL, thanks to Dave Chappelle talking and Leslie and Kyle loving