Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 
By Jillian Sederholm

The U.S. may seem divided in the days following the presidential election, but this week's "Saturday Night Live" with highly-anticipated host Dave Chappelle sought to inject some levity to Donald Trump's surprise win.

In contrast to this season's regular cold opens featuring Alec Baldwin as Trump and Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton playing off one another, Saturday's opening kicked off sans Baldwin and on a more somber note. McKinnon appeared alone as Clinton in an white pantsuit playing piano while singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," in a nod to the Canadian music legend who died earlier this week.

The song ended with McKinnon as Clinton saying: "I'm not giving up and neither should you. And live from New York, it's Saturday night."

The show marked Chappelle's triumphant return to sketch comedy more than a decade after walking away from his wildly popular "Chappelle's Show," and he was in as good of form as ever. The comic devoted his monologue to a sharp stand-up set full of biting social commentary, with plenty of profanities thrown in for good measure.

"We've actually elected an internet troll as president," Chappelle joked, but said the results weren't the same for all races. "I haven't seen white people this mad since the O.J. verdict"

"We've been here before," Chappelle said of black people. "Why do we have to say that black lives matter?" he lamented. "I admit it is not the best slogan, but McDonald’s already took ‘You deserve a break today.’”

Referencing the protesters "marching up the street right now as we speak," Chappelle ended his monologue by telling a story about attending a party at the White House a few weeks ago where everyone was black — except Bradley Cooper. He reflected on how far the U.S. had come since black people weren't even allowed inside the White House and said he felt hopeful about the prospects of the country.

"In that spirit, I’m wishing Donald Trump luck and I’m gonna give him a chance. And, we the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one too," Chappelle said in a message to the president-elect.

Host Dave Chappelle (center) with musical guests Jarobi White and Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest.NBC / Rosalind O'Connor/NBC


The theme of history causing black voters to perceive Trump's election differently was the premise of another political sketch on the show. One that took place at an election night party in which a group of white Clinton supporters grow increasingly distraught as the results come in.

Chappelle and former cast member Chris Rock in a cameo appearance play guests at the party who remind their shocked white companions that the rest of the country does not share their same New York liberal viewpoint.

"Oh my God, I think America is racist," one white woman exclaims.

"Oh my God, that's so weird," Chappelle replies. "I think my great-grandfather said something like that. I mean he was a slave or something."

“This is the most shameful thing America has ever done," a white man says after Trump is declared the winner. Chappelle and Rock erupt into laughter.

Another episode highlight saw Chappelle addressing a question that's been on fans' minds since he was announced as host: Would he play any of the iconic characters from his own sketch show on "SNL"?

The answer came in the form of a "Walking Dead" parody, in which Chappelle plays the villainous Negan to recreate the zombie show's last cliffhanger. Chappelle circles a group of his former characters — crackhead Tyrone Biggums, player-hater Silky, white news anchor Chuck Taylor, Lil' Jon, and black white supremacist Clayton Bigsby in a "Make America Great Again" hat — to choose one to beat to death with a bat.

He settles on beheading the homeless crackhead, but the disembodied head stays alive to offer one of his signature lessons: "And that is how we as a nation began to heal. By laughing together even though our country feels severed like a man from his head."

Like Chappelle, the night's musical guest — A Tribe Called Quest — was also performing after a long absence and also offered a powerful social message. The musicians' first performance was "We the People," off "We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service," their first new album after an 18-year hiatus and 8 months after the death of band member Phife Dawg."

"We don't believe you 'cause we the people are still here in the rear," the song begins. It later goes into a jarring call out of various disenfranchised groups, including black, Mexican, poor, Muslim and gay people.

For their final song, the group chose the uplifting call to action "The Space Program," a fitting bookend to Chappelle's monologue, and their own bit of protest.

"We can't give up. Let's make something happen," they chanted along with rappers Busta Rhymes and Consequence. "Let's get it together. Let's make something happen."