The stand-up also addresses his 2016 and 2020 hosting gigs in a newly-released video.
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Dave Chappelle famously hosted Saturday Night Live after the 2016 and 2020 elections, and while the show is currently on summer break, we're getting more insight into those memorable appearances.

In a new video shared on SNL's Twitter account, which appears to have been filmed before his 2020 hosting return, Chappelle opens up about preparing for the 2016 show while simultaneously listening to the election results.

"I do remember the gravity of the week," Chappelle says in the clip. "Like, Tuesday night, when we write, that was election night, and they were projecting the results on the ice in Rockefeller [Center]. I was in [Michael] Che's office, and the window was open, so you could hear when they call a state — 'Hooray!' Hooray was for Hilary [Clinton], we're in New York — and then you'd hear, 'Ohhh,' when it was [Donald] Trump. And for a period of time, you heard a bunch of, 'Ohhh,' in rapid succession, and the writers' room started slowing down as people started realizing things weren't going the way everyone expected."

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Dave Chappelle hosting 'Saturday Night Live'
| Credit: Will Heath/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The Chappelle's Show creator and comedian recalls feeling "complete panic," not because of the election, but due to his lengthy absence from the small screen prior to the hosting gig. Meanwhile, the SNL writers' room was going through its own emotional journey very much related to the election.

"It just had to do with I hadn't done television in 12 years. And the writers were on an involuntary strike," the stand-up explains. "It wasn't like they were striking, but they just couldn't — some people were literally, emotionally, distraught. People were very emotionally connected to that particular election cycle in a way I'd never seen before. The enormity — I understood what it meant, but I didn't understand what it felt like to so many people."

Chapelle's 2016 hosting gig (for which he won an Emmy) began with a memorable monologue during which he famously joked, "It seemed like Hillary was up in the polls, but I know the whites." It ended with him saying, "I'm wishing Donald Trump luck, and I'm gonna give him a chance. And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one too."

In Tuesday's newly-released video, Chapelle reveals he did a "totally different set" to the one he performed the night-of, in rehearsal. 

"When I was rehearsing, just being on that stage, in that room, it felt like a heavy lift," he shares. "Another thing people don't know — I signed my Netflix contract on my way to my [stage] mark. So it was a life-changing night."

Chapelle returned last year, following Joe Biden's election (although at the time, some states were still reporting in). The comic says he'd been "reluctant" to come back. "But, I saw so much press about what's happening in the country and the way people [have] been feeling. And I've been watching the show recently. When I said — at the read-through, I sincerely meant there's something really beautiful about this kind of effort in the face of this kind of turmoil," he shares in the clip. 

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Dave Chappelle
| Credit: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

He goes on to explain that he once again helmed the show, recognizing that the opportunity was more than just a moment for comedy.

"This is how we fight; this is how we protest; this is how we celebrate this genre of comedy," he shares. "It's our jobs and every once in a while we're lucky enough to be in a context where our job is to mean something more than just being funny."

"I'm nervous about it," he continues, speaking before his 2020 set. "As I always tell my friends, the beauty is in the attempt. Like, I hope it always goes well, but the beauty is in trying to help people feel better in a time when they so desperately need it."

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