Dave Chappelle denied that division in the United States is more acute than ever before, noting in a wide-ranging interview with CNN that the country has been grappling with systemic racism since before President Donald Trump took office.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, in an interview that aired Tuesday, asked Chappelle and fellow comedian Jon Stewart a series of questions about Trump’s rise to power and his impact on the world.
“Even when they say that Russia influenced the election, it’s kind of like, is Russia making us racist? Is that who’s doing it?” Chappelle joked. “Oh oh, thank goodness, I thought it was us.”
“If [Russia] killed the country that way then we’re the murder weapon,” he added.
When asked whether the “Trump era” provided good fodder for comedians, Chappelle said he would “not even name the era after him.”
“He’s getting too much credit. He’s not making the wave; he’s surfing it,” he said. “All he does is sing those people’s greatest hits ― build a wall, all those things we’ve heard before. He just sings all the songs. He’s the only one that’s been brash enough to do it.”
Chappelle drew mixed reactions when, while hosting “Saturday Night Live” shortly after the 2016 election, he said he planned to give Trump “a chance.”
“I’m going to give him a chance,” Chappelle said at the time. “And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one too.”
When asked to revisit those comments in his interview with CNN, Chappelle said he believes he said “the right thing at the right time,” before reflecting that Trump’s presidency has been “very difficult to watch the last couple years.”
Watch the full interview below.