Culture Feature

11 Most Memorable "Chappelle's Show" Sketches

It's time to revisit some classics.

Dave Chappelle's groundbreaking sketch comedy series Chappelle's Show is returning to Netflix.

The show was removed from the platform after a clip of Dave's displeasure with not being compensated by ViacomCBS went viral. Netflix and Chappelle have a close working relationship and empathized with Dave by removing the show as a sign of good faith.

Now Chappelle announced that he'd been paid "millions of dollars" and thanked his fans for the support.

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Netflix

8:46—Dave Chappelle's newest special, surprise dropped on Youtube in the wee hours of the morning—isn't comedy.

The official caption below the video reads: "From Dave: Normally I wouldn't show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand," followed by a link to the Equal Justice Initiative.

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FILM

The Best Netflix Comedy Specials of the 2010s

It was so bad, it was funny.

Everything in life is funny.

Remember that the next time you feel creeping alarm about climate change, impeachment proceedings, or Brexit. As George Carlin once said, "There's a humorous side to every situation. The challenge is to find it." But in the age of Twitter and op-eds about bad dates with comedians, it's hard to keep track of what's funny and what's cringey. In the last decade, we've been treated to all variations. From critics lamenting that Hannah Gadsby's emotional comedy isn't "real" stand-up to Dave Chappelle returning to say exactly what's on his mind regardless of the political climate, our cultural understanding of what constitutes comedy is currently in flux.

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Netflix

I really wanted to love John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch, because I really love John Mulaney.

John Mulaney is easily my favorite comedian of the modern era. He's an expert writer, capable of digging into jokes with such extreme specificity that you wholly believe that whatever absurd scenario he's recounting must have actually happened to him. And yet, he's never unrelatable, especially to fellow New Yorkers. As weird as the homeless man who lent Mulaney's Netflix special New in Town its title sounded, most of us have encountered similarly weird people on our late night subway treks.

From his musical SNL sketch "Diner Lobster" to his "Too Much Tuna" skits with Nick Kroll, Mulaney has a particular knack for bizarre humor that goes completely outside the box while staying entirely on-brand. Better yet, John Mulaney isn't a mean comedian. His comedy doesn't rely on punching down or calling out, but rather the reflections and introspections that come part and parcel with being a person in a society that doesn't always make sense.

Diner Lobster NBC

So, when John Mulaney debuted a new Netflix special billed as a children's musical comedy a la Sesame Street and The Electric Company, I had no doubt that it was going to be something special––and it is. The Sack Lunch Bunch is incredibly unique, patently Mulaney, and unlike anything else on TV. But despite all that, as much as it pains me to say this––and I realize my opinion is in the vast minority here––I thought John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch was only okay. Not terrible. Not amazing. Just okay.

John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch is a concept album of sorts. The idea behind it is phenomenal––it's John Mulaney's take on an 80's-era children's ensemble show, one that attempts to address real issues on modern children's minds while also being equally aimed at adults.

Early on in the show, one of the members of the Sack Lunch Bunch––a group of 15 child actors who chat, sing, and dance throughout––asks John Mulaney: "What's the tone of the show?"

The sack lunch bunch Netflix

"Is it ironic, or do you like doing a children's show?" chimes another member of the Sack Lunch Bunch.

"First off, I like doing the show," responds Mulaney. "But honestly, like if this doesn't turn out great, I think we should all be like, 'Oh, it was ironic,' and then people would be like, 'Oh, that's hilarious.' But if it turns out very good, we'd be like, 'Oh, thank you, we worked really hard' and act really humble, and then we win either way."

This exchange effectively sets the tone for the entire show. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch actually is a children's variety show, rather than a parody or a straight satire of one. But it also has the same bizarre, irreverent air as most of Mulaney's comedy. It's earnest, but maybe not entirely earnest.

For example, one of the show's big musical numbers, titled "Plain Plate of Noodles," features a set-up wherein one of the child actors complains about not being able to eat whatever he wants before breaking into a song and dance routine about only liking to eat plain noodles with a little bit of butter. Part of the humor lies in the absurdity of a child dancing on a stage surrounded by giant spaghetti tubes, but a lot of its cleverness lies in the fact that some kids really are just super picky and tend to cling to plain noodles with a little bit of butter. In other words, it's a real issue that kids can actually relate to and no other children's show has ever talked about.

But therein lies my biggest problem with John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch, a similar problem that has plagued countless concept albums: The idea is more interesting than the execution. As funny as the idea of a kid in a suit dancing around and singing about buttered noodles may be, I didn't get the same joy from actually watching it. Something got lost in translation; perhaps it's a larger point to the whole ordeal.

While plenty of the show's segments are amusing (the show makes great use of non-child-friendly celebrity cameos, like "Girl Talk with Richard Kind" and a song about being annoyed that adults aren't listening to you featuring David Byrne of The Talking Heads), none of it is laugh-out-loud funny in the same way that so much of Mulaney's humor tends to be. But if it is an earnest children's show, then I'm not sure there's actually a ton there for kids to enjoy. It may not talk down to children, but it also feels strongly geared towards adults who grew up with these kind of shows as opposed to kids today.

Jake Gyllenhaal mr music Netflix

The one real standout segment came at the finale, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal as Mr. Music, a man who is supposed to teach The Sack Lunch Bunch about the joy of making music but failed to prepare in advance and, as a result, messes up his entire shtick and injures himself in the process. Gyllenhaal, as always, is an absolute treasure and fully commits to his bit, which ultimately feels like a genuine parody of the genre. The rest of the show falls extra flat in comparison.

To be clear, there's not a single person other than John Mulaney who could have helmed such a project, and the world is most certainly better for its existence. Mulaney has proven himself time and time again as an artist of the obscure with a distinct creative vision, and I love that he's been given the freedom to make pretty much whatever he wants. But while I grew up on Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and Zoom, and I really entered with the intention of loving this, John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch didn't quite do it for me.

It wasn't bad. It wasn't great. I still recommend it as an entertaining work of weird art. Who knows, maybe you'll like it more than I did.

Lizzo dazzled on her SNL debut this weekend, but fans might have noticed another source of energy and talent emanating from next to the "Truth Hurts" singer as she belted out her tunes.

That would be Celisse Henderson, who shredded on guitar as Lizzo sang.

Lizzo: Truth Hurts (Live) - SNL www.youtube.com

Henderson is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who is a member of the band Ghosts of the Forest. She took center stage during Lizzo's performance, adding a layer of gritty, bluesy rock to the unbelievably catchy song about getting over a man who doesn't deserve you.

Henderson styled her look and guitar after the legendary Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose gospel and blues recordings were instrumental in shaping rock and roll. As one of the first guitarists to use distortion, she inspired many blues and rock players, and her voice and stage presence helped make her a star.

Seeing Lizzo's pristine, very 21st-century pop mixed with a tribute to one of the greatest rock and roll guitarists of all time gave scope and depth to the performance and helped make it the unforgettable showstopper that it was.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Up Above My Head www.youtube.com






Celisse Henderson - Stuck On You Blues | Sofar NYC www.youtube.com


Lizzo, who took to the stage covered in head-to-toe Gucci and hit stratospheric notes from start to finish, also posted a heart-warming tribute to her journey.

Between Henderson's masterful guitar playing, Lizzo's unbelievable pipes and stage presence, and the dancers that lit up the stage, it was a performance to remember.

Lizzo's sets were highlights of Eddie Murphy's star-studded, highly acclaimed, and hilarious SNL episode, which also braided tributes to icons of the past (like Gumby, dammit) with very modern humor.

Eddie Murphy Monologue - SNL www.youtube.com

CULTURE

5 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Cancelled

It's Almost Like They're Still Getting Away With Stuff...

Cancel culture has gone absolutely crazy.

You can't say anything these days without "triggering" a bunch of SJWs to get together and collectively cancel you. I mean, that's the contention of half the comedy specials on Netflix, so it must be true. They will dig through past comments and behavior to find any excuse. Even after you're dead, you can still get canceled! The whole situation is getting so out of control that it's getting hard to keep track of who is and isn't canceled, so here's a helpful guide to remind you of some of the celebrities whose cancellations may have escaped your notice.

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg with the man he nearly blinded

All 4 Women

Everyone knows Mark Wahlberg as the star of the Ted films, and Mel Gibson's son in Daddy's Home 2, but did you know that in his teen years, he was also the perpetrator of a string of brutal, racially motivated assaults, and that he has never acknowledged the racial component of his violent past? But who hasn't permanently disfigured and partially blinded a man while shouting racial slurs? Still, as a result of this normal, not-at-all upsetting history, Mark Wahlberg was officially cancelled in February. Since then, Wahlberg's once flourishing film career has collapsed to the point that he is only starring in five major motion pictures currently in production.

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld with Shoshanna Lonstein

What a normal-looking couple

People

Jerry Seinfeld made himself a target of cancel culture when he called out college kids for not laughing enough at his brilliant "gay French king" joke, but what really sealed the deal was the fact that, at the age of 39, when Seinfeld was the star of America's favorite sitcom, he was also dating a seventeen-year-old high school student named Shoshanna Lonstein. And yes, he absolutely looked like her awkward father in every picture they took together, but what man in his late thirties hasn't spent some time outside a high school looking to pick up chicks? Unfortunately for Jerry, the cancel cops got a hold of this info, and officially blacklisted him in August, resulting in Netflix only paying an estimated $500 million for the streaming rights to Seinfeld.

Whoopi Goldberg

Speaking of men and teenage girls, did you know you can be cancelled just for defending someone? That's what happened to Whoopi Goldberg in response to her 2009 comments on Roman Polanski, in which she said of Polanski's 1977 crimes "I don't think it was rape-rape," despite the victim's testimony that she continuously resisted his advances as Polanski gave the thirteen year old alcohol and drugs, and proceeded to rape her.

As a result, Donald Trump Jr. headed the team that cancelled Whoopi last October, which is why she has since appeared on The View only 5 days a week. Goldberg joins the ranks of Quentin Tarantino and a host of other prominent Hollywood figures whose careers have been absolutely tanked by impassioned Polanski defenses that are not at all indicative of a horrible culture that values talented men too much to punish horrifying crimes. Besides, it was only 8 years after Sharon Tate's murder! You can't be held accountable for anything you do in the decade after a loved one dies, even raping children!

John Lennon

Remember when people used to really idolize John Lennon and The Beatles? Their music used to be really popular, and people would even say mean things about Yoko Ono, blaming her for breaking up the band, not anymore. That all went out the window in July of last year, when a Twitter user reminded the world that John Lennon was a serial abuser, and then cancelled The Beatles. Sure, Lennon abused multiple partners, and at least one of his sons, but ever since Lennon was struck with the same post-mortem cancellation that Michael Jackson received, his solo music and The Beatles' entire catalogue have dropped completely out of cultural relevance, and is now valued at only around a billion dollars. "Imagine" that.

Drake

Drake with Bella Harris

Footage recently resurfaced of Drake from a 2010 concert in Denver, in which he brings a girl onstage to dance with her, then takes the opportunity to drape his arms across her chest and kiss her neck before asking her age. When she answers that she's 17, Drake reacts as any 23 year old would when coming to terms with the fact that his behavior with an underage girl was suggestive and inappropriate. He says, "Why do you look like that? You thick. Look at all this," and follows that up with, "I like the way your breasts feel against my chest." Cool.

At any rate, that was nearly a decade ago, and Drake was pretty young himself, there's probably no reason to look further into the now 33 year old's tendency to befriend teenage girls who he ends up dating once they're of age. That's what the people who cancelled him in January—resulting in him being only the fifth richest rapper on earth—want you to focus on. They want you to be concerned about his friendship with Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown but let's just talk about his grooming habits instead.

On second thought, maybe the hysteria over "cancel culture" attacking any and every tiny misstep is a little overblown. Sure, Kevin Hart didn't get to host the Oscars, but he definitely still has a career, and James Gunn's brief cancellation was revoked. Maybe it's justified to call people out when they screw up, to push for apologies for minor offenses, and to stop giving money and awards to people who've done truly monstrous things. Maybe cancel culture should actually be going a lot further...