Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle recently sat down for an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour where they discussed a wide range of topics, including the lead-up to Donald Trump’s presidency, the current climate and they also reflected on how their roles may have been affected by the events.
In terms of the racial, class and gender divide that has been a prevalent topic of conversation since the 2016 election, Stewart said that these issues are not new to the political landscape. “I think that’s always with us,” he said. “It’s just at times it maybe bubbles up more explicitly. It’s always foundational and so I don’t know that it ever goes away.”
Chappelle added that the political divide that is playing out now can’t solely pegged to outside interference. “It’s kinda like, are Russians making us racist? Is that who’s doing it?” he quipped, adding wryly, “Oh, thank goodness. I thought it was us.”
While political strife may sometimes seem to serve as good fodder for comedians, in the case of Trump, Chappelle said he wouldn’t name the era after him. “He’s getting too much credit,” he said. “He’s not making the wave, he’s surfing it.” Stewart agreed, adding that Trump is a pitchman who tailors what he says to sell what he thinks the audience wants to hear.
Amanpour also addressed Chappelle’s plea during Saturday Night Live following the election where he said he’d give Trump a chance, but added in his speech that “we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one, too.”
“I think I said the right thing at the right time,” Chappelle said of putting things in perspective at that moment. However, he also stressed that the ensuing fallout has not been easy. “Is he doing a good job? Am I happy with what he’s doing? No, it’s been very difficult to watch the last couple years.”
Stewart, who back in 2015 didn’t take Trump’s run for the White House seriously at that time, said he thought that once Trump got to the White House Trump might feel and understand the “cognitive weight” of the position. However, that was not the case. “I think that oddly enough, he transformed the White House and the White House wasn’t able to transform him.”
During the full interview, the pair also discussed the attacks on journalism, sexism and Louis C.K.’s controversial return to the comedy stage.