Comedy icon Dave Chappelle dropped a surprise special called “8:46” on YouTube late Thursday, where he addressed the police killing of George Floyd and the weeks of protests since the murder.
“This is not funny at all,” Chappelle warned late in the 27-minute special, which ― given the nature of current events ― was light on jokes.
Chappelle discussed his first earthquake experience in Los Angeles and how he thought he was going to die, even thought it lasted about 35 seconds. Then, his voice rising with rage, he spoke of the 8 minutes and 46 seconds a police officer in Minneapolis pushed his knee on Floyd’s neck.
“When I watched this tape, I understood this man knew he was gonna die,” Chappelle said:
The special begins with people in masks receiving temperature checks before going into the show, which was taped June 6 at an outdoor venue in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he lives. Chappelle has been doing a series of invitation-only events with a mask-wearing, socially distant audience.
During the special, Chappelle took on a number of media figures, including Fox News host Laura Ingraham and CNN’s Don Lemon. Lemon, he noted, had called out celebrities who were “strangely quiet” about the protests, demanding last month that they “do something and help these young people instead of sitting in your mansions and doing nothing.”
Chappelle spent much of the set explaining the recent history of police violence against Black people and the historical roots of racial injustice in America ― as well as his own personal connections to both. Then he provided an answer for Lemon and others who want to know why he’s been quiet.
“Because David Chappelle understands what the fuck he is seeing,” Chappelle said. “And these streets will speak for themselves whether I am alive or dead.”