The only thing that dimmed excitement for tonight’s episode was the prospect of a last merry-go-round with Jim Carrey’s Joe Biden. He six-shootered, he stretched his mouth like gum-but then the cold open wisely passed the baton from Carrey (who’s just wonderful, in any other role) to Maya Rudolph. God bless the costumer who found an ivory pantsuit and silk blouse that looked identical to the ones Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, wore during her rousing acceptance speech just hours earlier. A giddy Rudolph took the audience to church, joyfully reciting the list of her firsts. First female! First Black! First Indian-American! And, with a deeply felt look of pride, first biracial person! “If any of that terrifies you,” she said, “then, well, I don’t give a funt.”
As Biden and Harris bopped to “You About to Lose Yo Job,” we checked in on lame duck president Donald Trump. There sat a pouting Alec Baldwin, bathed in somber light at the piano, self-pitying to the Village People. It was a lovely full circle moment, a national nightmare that began with a woman searching for grace and ended with a small man whimpering to himself about his strength. You’re free now, Alec. Go change diapers.
We all came tonight, though, for Dave Chappelle. Joe Biden and Harris had already addressed the nation. Now it was Chappelle’s turn. He’d been there when Trump went in, and now mercifully again on the President’s way out.
Chappelle’s monologue feels more deserving of a graduate thesis or a deep, languorous bar conversation (remember those?) than a hasty pre-dawn recap. It began with his security cigarette in an ashtray and him in a sharp suit, talking about his great grandfather-enslaved until he was 10 years old. He became a man devoted to education, the liberation of Black people, and Jesus Christ. There was the gentlest rebuke of all of us happily thinking America is a safe