Jon Stewart appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Tuesday evening and went long on Dave Chappelle’s controversial “SNL” monologue, during which the comedian riffed on the recent instances of antisemitism involving Kanye West and Kyrie Irving. Chappelle was accused of “normalizing and popularizing” antisemitism by the Anti-Defamation League.
Stewart responded to the criticism aimed at Chappelle, saying that the comedian isn’t the one who is single handedly “normalizing” antisemitism.
“I don’t know if you’ve been on comments sections on most news articles, but it’s pretty f-cking normal … The one thing I will say is, I don’t believe that censorship and penalties are the way to end antisemitism or to gain understanding. I think it’s the wrong way to approach it.”
Colbert pushed back, saying that though he believes “any comic has a right to say whatever they want,” viewers also “have a right to have a negative reaction to what people say onstage.”
Stewart said that “reflexively naming things antisemitism is as reductive as some of the things they might be saying” and “immediately shuts down a conversation.” He went on to defend Chappelle by saying that the art of comedy “plays with tropes” and comedians “rely on those tropes as a shorthand for our material.”
Stewart even said that when the comedian quipped that “it shouldn’t be hard to talk about things” during his monologue, he found that comment “constructive.”
“Whether it be comedy or discussion or anything else, if we don’t have the wherewithal to meet each other with what’s reality, then how do we move forward? If we all just shut it down, then we retreat to our little corners of misinformation and it metastasizes. The whole point of all this is to not let it metastasize and to get it out in the air and talk about it.”
To lighten the mood, Stewart then made a joke, telling Colbert, “Like I know you don’t like Jews, I see it in your eyes.”
Colbert joked back, “Really just one of you.”
Then things got serious again, as Stewart commented on the way that the nation deals with controversy in general.
“Penalizing somebody for having a thought I don’t think is the way to change their minds or gain understanding,” Stewart continued. “I’m afraid that the general tenor of conversation in this country is cover it up, bury it, put it to the outskirts and don’t deal with it.”
During the 12-minute segment, the former talk show host also discussed recent controversies surrounding West, whose career and professional partnerships are in a tailspin after repeated antisemitic remarks, and Irving, who was suspended from the Nets and dropped by Nike because he posted a link to a movie that promotes antisemitic tropes.
Watch the full segment here or in the video embed above.