Culture

Can Dave Chappelle Make 'SNL' Matter Again?

“Saturday Night Live” continues to draw the biggest names in show business. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out why.

The show’s downward trajectory has been depressing to observe. What’s worse? The lack of breakout stars and an unrelenting liberal bias.

You can partially blame the cartoonish Donald Trump for the show’s imbalance. It still deserves to hammer Hillary Clinton each week … but rarely does so.

None of that might matter Nov. 12. That night, comedian Dave Chappelle will host the venerable sketch show. In an age of overexposed stars, Chappelle’s name still counts. We just learned Chappelle will host the new, post-election episode with musical guest A Tribe Called Quest.

Even some conservatives were cheering the news on Twitter, putting aside their venom toward the liberal sketch show.

Why?

Chappelle remains both a vibrant talent and an enigma. His Comedy Central series “Chappelle’s Show” proved a sensation … until he quit it at the peak of its powers.

The reason? Even Chappelle might confess it wasn’t crystal clear. He had just signed a massive new contract worth $50 million, but he felt uncomfortable about the creative process. At the time, he mentioned that the way someone on set laughed at some jokes made him uncomfortable. He also felt the show’s team didn’t have his back.

Or was Chappelle simply burning out at a very young age?

Later, he discussed his discomfort at being the center of so much attention as well as how much his family influenced his decision. He put raising a family over superstardom.

The comedian didn’t come immediately back with a new project. He still hasn’t, really. He tours now and again, popping up and wowing crowds with his combustible sets. He gives the occasional interview, just enough for us to realize how uncommon it is to hear what he has to say.

At a time when mega-stars like Tom Hanks are ever-present in our lives, performing Carpool Karaoke and lip sync battles, that’s refreshing.

So the fact that he’s about the host “SNL” for the first time truly feels like an event. And, after an election campaign which showed the program’s biases, a bold start is certainly in order.

Who better to deliver just that than Chappelle?

And boy does “SNL” need it. Beyond the show’s liberal leanings, it simply lacks the danger, the excitement, it once delivered. It’s part of our PC culture now, not the thumb in the eye said culture so desperately deserves. Those “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” should be embarrassed at how the show has “matured.”

It’s too much to ask Chappelle to reverse all that. But, for one potentially magical night, “SNL” will be must see TV … again.