Bowen Yang addresses distancing himself from Dave Chappelle on “Saturday Night Live ”stage: 'I was just confused'

"It had to do with so many things that were completely internal."

Bowen Yang is ready to clear the air about his awkward Saturday Night Live photo with Dave Chappelle.

Back in January, eagle-eyed SNL viewers were surprised to spot Chappelle onstage during the tail end of the Dakota Johnson-hosted episode. The Chappelle Show comedian wasn’t featured in any sketches, but appeared on camera for the final goodnights — during which, Yang stood on the opposite end of the stage with his arms folded.

Jokes about Yang purposely distancing himself from the controversial comedian immediately circulated on social media, but the SNL star now says that wasn’t quite the case.

“I stand where I always stand on [goodnights],” Yang told Variety in a new interview. “It was not a physical distance that anyone was creating. It had to do with so many things that were completely internal.”

<p>Charley Gallay/Getty; Bryan Bedder/Getty </p> Dave Chappelle and Bowen Yang

Charley Gallay/Getty; Bryan Bedder/Getty

Dave Chappelle and Bowen Yang

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Asked if Chappelle’s appearance made him unhappy, Yang said, “It was about other people’s response in the show. I was just confused, that was it.”

Fellow SNL star Kenan Thompson added that it was “jarring” to see the moment make headlines, because cast members were also confused by Chappelle’s surprise presence.

Related: Bowen Yang and Lily Gladstone to star in remake of Ang Lee's rom-com The Wedding Banquet

Chappelle courted controversy for his 2021 Netflix stand-up special The Closer, where he made jokes about the transgender community. Advocacy groups and members of the LGBTQ+ community condemned his rhetoric and Netflix employees staged a walkout in protest of the release. Chappelle last hosted SNL the following year and his monologue was criticized by the national director of the Anti-Defamation League for "popularizing" anti-Semitism.

<p>NBC</p> "Saturday Night Live" goodnights, season 49, Episode 10


"Saturday Night Live" goodnights, season 49, Episode 10

In the same interview, Yang also opened up about another controversial appearance from SNL’s 49th season: the return of Shane Gillis, whose use of racial and homophobic slurs on a podcast got him fired from the show in 2019. Gillis was originally hired as one of three new featured players in season 45, alongside Yang and Chloe Fineman.

“Anytime our names are in the same sentence, at least in a journalistic way, it always feels deleterious,” Yang said. “It feels like one person is trying to undo the other.”

Of Gillis returning to host the show, Yang said, “I was just really curious about what that show would be like and if it would be an opportunity to really move past it. I think he and I have done enough things in our careers now to really not [have] that be the definitive beginning or the thing that casts a pall over everything else that we do going forward.”

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.