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Watch: Dave Chapelle's '8:46' Special Is A Hard-Hitting Reflection On The State Of America

Watch: Dave Chapelle's '8:46' Special Is A Hard-Hitting Reflection On The State Of America
Sean Meehan
By Sean Meehan
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If you can earmark a comedy special for its lack of humour, it probably means it wasn't very good.

However, this is Dave Chapelle we're talking about, one of the finest comedians ever to grace a stage, so even his pursuit of the serious was purposeful.

Chapelle, with Netflix, dropped a performance on YouTube on Thursday, without any fanfare or announcement. The performance was recorded at a private event in Ohio, at an outdoor setting with social distancing maintained throughout.

The special, just over 27 minutes in length, is an insight to what makes Chapelle's comedy and storytelling great. He weaves detailed stories and counterpoints to create a synthesis time and again. The special's title, 8:46, refers to the period of time Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd, causing him to die.

8:46 also was the time of Chapelle's birth, the numbers that have remained stuck inside his head since the killing. He cites Kobe Bryant as the reason he couldn't make the Grammys, with the former LA Lakers death occurring on the day of the ceremony. Kobe's numbers, hung in the rafters of the Staples Center, 24/8, the date Chapelle was born.


Chapelle mentions Kobe in the same breath as LeBron James, who amidst his outspokenness on social injustice, was told to "shut up and dribble" by Laura Ingraham.

There are plenty more deep-seated theses which Chapelle runs the run over in the special, from the killings of police officers in Dallas to the first black delegation to report to the White House of Woodrow Wilson.


Chapelle remarks at the end of the special that the show "wasn't funny at all". That's not entirely true, non-sequitur moments harking back to old jokes about Ja Rule and destroying Candace Owens are comedic highlights. Nevertheless, he's not a million miles away.

The special wasn't 'funny' in the sense of Chapelle's previous stand-up specials or sketch show, because it couldn't be. Chapelle couldn't laugh off a country on fire because his message would be misconstrued.

In the special's caption, Chapelle writes: "Normally I wouldn't show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand."


Unrefined perhaps, unfunny maybe, unforgettable? Absolutely.

Watch 8:46 below:

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