Netflix dropped a new Dave Chappelle special in an unconventional manner on Friday. The streaming platform posted the show, titled “8:46,” on its YouTube page, where viewers can watch Chapelle talk about race in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The title refers to the length of time Floyd was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” Chauvin was fired and eventually charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers involved were also charged with aiding and abetting. Floyd’s death, which was seen on video, sparked weeks of nationwide protests for racial justice.
Chappelle directly addresses the tragedy in his special, which was filmed in Ohio, where the comedian lives. “It’s hard to figure out what to say about George Floyd, so I’m not going to say it yet,” Chappelle says to open his set. “I got to tell you, this is like the first concert in North America since all this s*** happened, so like it or not, it’s history. It’s going to be in the books.”
The comedian also speaks about how the video of Floyd’s death impacted him. “When I watched that tape, I understood this man knew he was going to die… for some reason that I still don’t understand, all these f***ing police stood there with their hands in their pockets. Who are you talking to? What are you signifying that you can kneel on a man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and feel like you wouldn’t get the wrath of God?”
Chappelle admitted he avoided watching the tape for a long time, and when he did, one of the hardest parts to see was Floyd saying he couldn’t breathe.
At the end of the special, Chappelle opens up about his grief over the death of Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on January 26. “He died the day I won a Grammy,” Chapelle said. “That’s why I didn’t show up at the Grammys, because Kobe died. They had both of his f***ing jersey numbers hanging up – 8, 24. Well that’s my birthday. I cried like a baby.”
The caption of the YouTube video includes a message from Chappelle: “Normally I wouldn’t show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand,” he writes. He also shares a link to the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization which is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.