Dave Chappelle got serious during a stand-up set at a festival over the weekend.
The comedian appeared at the Roots Picnic in New York’s Bryant Park on Oct. 1. During his set, Chappelle put the jokes aside to address the serious issue of Black Lives Matter.
While stalling during his performance, the actor threw his support behind the movement.
“Black lives do matter,” he told the New York City crowd. “And I shouldn’t have to say that.”
The formerly cheering audience grew quiet, waiting for the punchline to come.
But Chappelle was not kidding when he made the political statement.
“There’s no punchline, n—–,” he said; and the crowd responded with laughter. “Black lives do matter. And the best way to show people that Black lives matter is to live a good Black life.”
— Okayplayer (@okayplayer) October 2, 2016
The comedian’s remarks should not come as a surprise.
Chappelle has been very outspoken about backing Black issues in the past.
During an acceptance speech for Russell Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation last year, the actor told the audience full of artists they have a duty to become activists.
“The biggest enemy of an artist is apathy,” he said. “A kid gets killed by the police and I buy a T-shirt, and before I can wear that one, there’s another kid [killed] and I’m running out of closet space.”
His remarks came around the time when Cincinnati police shot and killed Samuel DuBose, an unarmed Black motorist.
And although he may not always get serious, his comedy has touched on the problems Black Americans face.
In his 2000 special Killin’ Them Softly, the comedian discussed the differences between the way police handle white citizens over Black ones.
Chappelle explains a scenario in which a cop would violate him during a traffic stop. Meanwhile, a white man can tell an officer he was high on marijuana and simply get help with directions.