SNL Had A Record Night With Dave Chappelle’s Controversial Hosting

The Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Dave Chappelle had 4.8 million viewers, the best of the season for the show.

By Chad Langen | Published

Dave Chappelle returned to host Saturday Night Live for a third time over the weekend, and although NBC was criticized for bringing the controversial stand-up comedian back on the series, the network’s decision proved to be beneficial. According to Deadline, the latest episode of the long-running television sketch and variety show, which has lost several cast members in the last few months, pulled in its highest ratings of the season with 4.8 million total viewers. The first five episodes of the show’s current season have averaged around 4 million viewers, which is considerably lower than previous installments of the series.

While ratings for the sixth and most recent episode of Saturday Night Live Season 48 are undoubtedly impressive for this season, those numbers are nothing in comparison to episodes in previous installments of the series. In fact, Dave Chappelle drew in an estimated nine million viewers the last time he served as host on the show back in 2020. The highest-rated episode in the program’s history was when 17 million people tuned in to see Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan host in March 1994.

For years, Dave Chappelle has faced intense and prolonged media and public scrutiny due to his offensive jokes, but things reached a boiling point last year for the comedian following the release of his Netflix special The Closer. Since the stand-up special premiered on the streaming service October 5, 2020, Chappelle has been under fire for controversial jokes directed at the LGBTQ community, with many activists taking to social media to call for the comic to be canceled.

Despite cries to halt his career, Dave Chappelle is still alive and kicking in the world of stand-up. Nevertheless, his recent hosting gig on Saturday Night Live has ignited an entirely new wave of criticism due to his 15-minute monologue consisting of commentary on Kanye West and several jokes about the Jewish community. Since the episode aired, Chappelle has been accused of normalizing and popularizing antisemitism.

So far, neither NBC nor Dave Chapelle has formally addressed the backlash the recent episode of Saturday Night Live has received. In fact, according to Page Six, the comedian performed a phony monologue during the dress run to prevent SNL boss Lorne Michaels from pulling the plug on his real one before it made it on air. An insider told the outlet that the first time staff writers saw the controversial monologue was on live TV.

The recent backlash aside, NBC is undoubtedly enjoying the boost in ratings Dave Chappelle brought to the latest episode of Saturday Night Live. And even though the comedian can’t seem to stay out of hot water, he shows no signs of slowing down.

In addition to traveling the west coast on a stand-up comedy tour with Chris Rock, the comic reportedly has two more Netflix specials scheduled to arrive on the platform sometime in the near future. He also has an untitled documentary, which concluded a 11-city tour, that the streaming giant hasn’t considered buying the rights to, but they’re open to discussing distributing the feature with Chappelle should he be interested.