In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests triggered by the death of George Floyd, Dave Chappelle has partnered up with Netflix, once again, to release a surprise comedy special, 8:46.
The 27-minute feature dropped on Friday morning through the streaming platform and was also released for free on the Netflix is a Joke YouTube channel — Netflix’s official hub for self-produced standup features and specials.
Throughout 8:46, Chappelle focuses on controversial subjects, including Floyd’s death, the ongoing anti-racism/anti-police brutality protests triggered by it and the novel coronavirus, and despite the grim nature of the content, Chappelle keeps his audience laughing by poking fun at people like Kevin Hart, Laura Ingraham and Candace Owens.
The title, 8:46, refers to the amount of time a white police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for before he died: eight minutes and 46 seconds. Chappelle later revealed that 8:46 a.m. was also the time of day that he was born.
At the beginning of the special, Chappelle, 46, recounts the “absolutely terrifying” experience he had sitting through the infamous Northridge earthquake in California in 1994. He said that he had “smoked a joint” and was watching Apocalypse Now (1979) just as it struck his apartment and admitted that, for a brief moment, he was concerned for his life.
“That earthquake couldn’t have been more than 35 seconds,” Chappelle said, before suddenly breaking off from his story to address the killing of Floyd.
“This man kneeled on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds,” he said. “Can you imagine that? The kid thought he was going to die, he knew he was going to die. He called for his dead mother.
“I’ve only seen that once in my life. My father, on his death bed, called for his grandmother. When I watched that tape, I understood this man knew he was going to die.
“For some reason I still don’t understand, all these f—kin’ police had their hands in their pockets … What are you signifying? That you can kneel on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds and feel like you wouldn’t get the wrath of God.
“That’s what is happening right now,” Chappelle said, referring to the Black Lives Matter protests. “It’s not for a single cop, it’s for all of it.”
“I don’t mean to get heavy, but we gotta say something.”
Chappelle was met with an ovation from the small crowd of masked and physically distanced attendees.
Chappelle later recalled a time, shortly after the killing, that he was watching a broadcast from CNN reporter Don Lemon, who called out a number of celebrities for remaining silent on the subject.
“I was screaming at the TV,” said Chappelle. “I dare you to say (my name).
“So now, all of a sudden, this n— expects me to step in front of the streets and talk over the work these people are doing … as a celebrity?”
“Do we give a f—k what Ja Rule thinks? Does it matter about celebrities? No. This is the streets talking for themselves. They don’t need me right now. I kept my mouth shut, and I’m still keeping my mouth shut.
“Don’t think that my silence is complicit … Why would anybody care what their favourite comedian thinks after they saw a police officer kneel on a man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds?”
Floyd died on May 25 following his arrest in Minneapolis. He was 46.
An autopsy commissioned by his family has since found that his death was caused by asphyxiation. The family’s autopsy differs from the official autopsy listed in the criminal complaint against the officer, which found that Floyd’s death was caused by cardiac arrest.
All four officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired. Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter late last month.
On June 3, it was announced that he is facing a new second-degree murder charge and the other three officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Also addressing the absurdity of his physically distanced standup set, Chappelle said to the crowd: “I gotta tell you, this is actually like the first concert in North America since all this s—t happened.
“Like it or not, it’s history; it’s gonna be in the books,” he added.
Chappelle’s 8:46 can be seen in its entirety in the video at the top of this story.
It was filmed on June 6, in Yellow Springs, Ohio, according to Variety.