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Comedian and Saturday Night Live co-head writer Michael Che said his socially distanced outdoor sets in Queens weren’t meant as a response to the Black Lives Matter protests, despite the support he initially got from protesters and organizers.
During his Tuesday appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the SNL “Weekend Update” host spoke about the origins of his free outdoor shows, which he’s been doing in Long Island City since June. Che explained that his shows, which he started shortly after Dave Chappelle began his own outdoor sets in Ohio, were originally about his desire to get out of the house and tell jokes.
“I just wanted to do comedy when I was really stewing in the house,” Che told Fallon. “Everything was happening — the protests were happening and all this tension was going on — and I just wanted to be able to say something to an audience.”
Che said that after he posted the announcement for his first show on Instagram, the Black Lives Matter organization picked it up and posted it to their website. That’s when what he viewed as a standard set turned into “a little bit more” than he bargained for, as masked fans and protesters with signs showed up.
“All these people came that thought they were going to see a protest, and I literally just wanted to try a couple of jokes about my nether regions, and that was it,” Che said. “I didn’t know that I had to say something important.”
The crowd may not have been what Che expected, and the comedian admitted the experience of hearing a crowd laugh again was strange, but he described the turnout as fun, calling the experience “awesome.”
“I looked at it as like my USO tour,” Che said. “I felt like Bob Hope, like the protesters were the troops, and I was just entertaining them to keep morale up, and then they go protest right after that.”
Watch the full segment below.