Dave Chappelle’s New Comedy Special Isn’t Comedy at All

We haven’t heard a whole lot from Dave Chappelle in recent months. But early on June 12, he reemerged with a new comedy special titled 8:46.

A lot of us went into it thinking Chappelle would employ his usual humor and panache, but the program has a more serious tone. Its central focus is the death of George Floyd and how other injustices like that contributed to what’s been unfolding in America.

Dave Chappelle at an event in January 2020
Dave Chappelle at an event in January 2020 | Sean Rayford/Getty Images

More on Dave Chappelle’s new standup special

Don’t get us wrong — there are jokes in 8:46. But it’s more of a monologue on Floyd and other police-related killings of black Americans. It’s called 8:46 because that’s the amount of time Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck before he died, but it also happens to be the time Chappelle was born.

“I can’t get that number out of my head because it was my time of birth on my birth certificate,” he says at one point in the special. “I was born at 8:46 in the morning and they killed this n*gga in 8 minutes and 46 seconds.”

Dave Chappelle at an event in September 2018
Dave Chappelle at an event in September 2018 | Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for Backstage Creations

A true entertainer, Chappelle repeatedly checks on the crowd to make sure he’s not boring them with his talking points. Each time, audible nos are heard from the audience. Making sure around the 23:00 mark, Chappelle offers, “I got some p***y jokes too.” But the silence is telling: the crowd is interested and intrigued. He has them gripped for another four minutes or so before the program comes to an end.

Fan reactions to Dave Chappelle’s new standup special

Based on Twitter, the reactions to 8:46 seem overwhelmingly positive. Although it strays from what fans are used to seeing from the comedian, viewers are applauding his delivery and approach to such serious issues.

“Dave Chappelle’s latest isn’t a comedy special. It’s a sermon,” read one tweet. “You can hear his pain on behalf of George Floyd and the pain endured by Black Americans, and he wants his country to feel it. I hope people listen.”

“I was expecting it to be some Jokes, nah no Jokes on that New Chappelle. Just Real rap. He wasn’t in the mood for jokes just had to get some sh*t off his chest. And I totally respect that but man mentally this sh*t is HEAVY,” another person said, before praising Chappelle’s performance and audience control.

Echoing that, a third person tweeted: “Nothing Chappelle has ever done has ever hit me harder than that. And the laughs were few and far between. By his design. Yeah we can crack a joke here and there but ain’t sh*t funny about this.”

RELATED: Fans Are Calling Out Dave Chappelle Over His Latest Comedy Shows

Dave Chappelle’s last standup special

His last special, 2019’s Sticks & Stones, was a lot more controversial. It featured a variety of jokes — from the #MeToo movement to the LGBTQ community — and pissed off many people.

The comedian did not address the backlash, but he admitted in the special that he saw it coming.

“That’s why I don’t be coming out doing comedy all the time,” he said (via The Guardian). “I’m goddamn sick of it. This is the worst time ever to be a celebrity. You’re gonna be finished. Everyone’s doomed.”

But even so, 8:46 makes it clear that he will put those feelings aside when bigger issues are at stake. Viewers can watch what he has to say on YouTube’s Netflix Is A Joke channel now.

Read more: Who Is Dave Chappelle’s Wife, Elaine Chappelle?