Chance Explains How He & Kevin Hart Tackled Racism Differently On “SNL” (Audio)
Last November, Chance The Rapper used his time as host of Saturday Night Live to pen a couple of comedy sketches, including “Wayne Thanksgiving.” In it, Chance and SNL cast members Leslie Jones, Keenan Thompson and Chris Redd play concerned members of the community upset with “Bruce Wayne” for being a bit too vigilant about his vigilantism. Played by Beck Bennett (no relation to Chancelor Bennett), the “Batman” character is accused by Chance et al for taking “tough on crime” to a problematic level, breaking the jaws of citizens and “fighting crime” in “our neighborhood all the time.” It was a not-so-thinly veiled commentary on police brutality and excessive force in communities of color and anyone who’s familiar with the rapper’s work was not surprised he took such a bold chance in his comedy foray.
Though it happened months ago, “Wayne Thanksgiving” became a recent topic of conversation on Pitchfork‘s In Sight Out podcast. Chance was the guest of honor on its recent episode, recorded at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in his native Chicago, Illinois. For over an hour, the Grammy-winning artist and political activist discussed his career, including the SNL stint. Near the 31:00 minute mark, after shutting down any notion (including a nod of support from DJ Jazzy Jeff) of his playing the “Fresh Prince” in a reboot, Chance brings up not only his SNL sketch but also one of Kevin Hart’s, interestingly also involving Batman and crime. “It was A-f*cking-1,” he says of his “Wayne Thanksgiving” sketch, giving himself props for its concept.
“But then, Kevin Hart had to try and come on two weeks later and re-produce my sketch, but with ‘Batman’ as a Black man at a routine police stop,” he says. Chance is referring to a December 2017 sketch in which SNL host Kevin Hart plays “Captain Shadow,” an obvious incarnation of “Batman.” In it, he and Chris Redd (playing a “Robin”-inspired sidekick, “The Cardinal”) are pulled over by police after intervening in a robbery. Ultimately, the cop searches them and finds “Captain Shadow’s” cocaine.
On In Sight Out, Chance seemingly takes umbrage at the way Hart’s skit ended. Because Hart’s version of “Batman” “actually had cocaine,” asks Chance, “where is the political statement?” (32:35). He continues, “What are you saying? I did one where I say, OK, here’s Batman as a regular citizen, a vigilante, and we use terms like ‘excessive force’ and it gets whittled down…but you still get a dope piece. You still get a community upset about how this criminal justice is being enacted on them disproportionately. You get to understand that ‘Batman’ is focusing on one specific group of people.” Hart’s sketch instead cast the ‘Batman’-esque character as Black and his stop by police ends up being justified. “Where do you see that in society? What about Philando [Castile]? There’s a lot of situations where police do stop Black men and it’s unjustified.”
However, Chance makes it clear he is in no way accusing Hart of being willfully obtuse. “I don’t have a problem with K. Hart. He knows that that’s my guy. I just had to get that sh*t off my chest, yo.”
In September 2017, Kevin Hart organized the fourth annual Hartbeat Weekend, which raised $150,000 for childhood cancer. This year, Chance appeared on G Herbo’s “Everything (Remix),” featuring Lil Uzi Vert.