Jerry Seinfeld reacts to Dave Chappelle’s controversial SNL monologue about antisemitism

Jerry Seinfeld didn’t have much to say about Dave Chappelle’s controversial SNL monologue, which focused on the Jewish community and Kanye West’s recent antisemitism controversy.

During the 12 November broadcast, Chappelle was accused of antisemitism himself, as he said that there are “a lot of Jews” in Hollywood and implied that “they” could take his platform away.

Seinfeld, who is himself Jewish, was asked what he thought about the monologue during a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“I did think the comedy was well-executed,” Seinfeld said. “But I think the subject matter calls for a conversation that I don’t think I’d want to have in this venue.”

Probed further as to whether the monologue made him “uncomfortable”, Seinfeld replied: “It provokes a conversation which hopefully is productive.”

The eponymous Seinfeld star added that he does not have a “close relationship” with Chappelle, as the interviewer suggested, saying: “We’re friends and it’s not a close relationship.”

In the comedy monologue address, Chappelle argued that West broke “the rules of perception” by suggesting there was a Jewish conspiracy at the centre of the media industry.

Chappelle on ‘Saturday Night Live’ (NBC)
Chappelle on ‘Saturday Night Live’ (NBC)

He explained: “You know, the rules of perception. If they’re Black, it’s a gang. If they’re Italian, it’s a mob. If they’re Jewish, it’s a coincidence and you should never speak about it.”

Hacks star Hannah Einbinder was among those to criticise Chappelle for the monologue, which she argued compounded antisemitic sentiments.

The actor claimed that Chappelle had “used a genius technique: two truths and a lie” and was able to get away with sharing antisemitic conspiracy rhetoric by slipping it between “solid jokes” that she too “laughed at”.

“No one who laughs at the solid jokes would be willing to admit that there was antisemitism in that monologue, because that admission would then qualify them as complicit,” Einbinder said.

Chappelle’s monologue was also condemned by the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

“We shouldn’t expect @DaveChappelle to serve as society’s moral compass, but disturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalise but popularise #antisemitism,” Jonathan Greenblatt wrote on Twitter.

“Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?”

Chappelle has become a polarising figure in recent years due to jokes that critics have described as transphobic, which he failed to address in his monologue.

The backlash to Chappelle’s remarks about trans people has previously led to venues cancelling scheduled stand-up performances. Earlier this year, plans to name a high school theatre in Chappelle’s honour were abandoned at the comedian’s request following an outcry among students.

Chappelle has nonetheless continued to tour extensively, and his special The Closer was recently nominated for an Emmy.