A poem for @davechappelle and his opening monologue on SNL.
Chappelle’s standup seems as polished and nuanced as an essay, and yet he performs it like a true orator, as though he’s just speaking off the cuff and telling a story as it comes to him, or as he heard it. It’s thoughtful and extemporaneous at once. I would even say sublime, if sublimity is the synthesis of high and low.
He reminds me of the old trope of the jester in medieval courts being the one person who could truly criticize the king. He could speak the truth to him by concealing it within a joke and say the things that people knew but couldn’t say.
The Fool to the Court
for Dave Chappelle
And I and the peasants cheer
the way he insults the crown
in front of all, including the king,
with lords and ladies gathered,
and he is so good and graceful
with his words, and chooses them
so carefully, that each audience laughs
for different reasons at the same thing
and does not know how the other
could be laughing at the same time
as they are and not upset the king,
who is this reign a tyrant, and whose
sneer of cold command in secret gazes
like the eye of Sauron for its ring.