Michael Che responded to a stand-up bit that recently resurfaced on social media when he visited Late Night on Monday.
In his 2016 Netflix special Michael Che Matters, the comedian discussed the semantics of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in response to people arguing that “all lives matter.”
“It’s almost bittersweet because I’m happy that people like the clip, but it’s also kind of a bummer that it’s still relevant. I wish it wasn’t,” Che told host Seth Meyers. “I feel like the guy who wrote ‘Amazing Grace.’ You’re happy you hear the song, but every time you hear it, you’re like, ‘Oh, no. What happened?’ Because no one plays it for a good occasion.”
Che then explained the message of the bit. “It’s just saying that we’re just asking to matter and somehow that becomes a challenge or somehow that becomes unreasonable to some people,” he said. “And the absurdity of not being able to give us that much, you know, is really all it is.”
The Saturday Night Live star also reflected on the present moment, saying, “After a while you stop worrying about why they don’t want to give [justice] to you and you get to the point where you just demand it. And I think that’s what we’re seeing now.”
“We’ve been asking for so long that people are at a point where they don’t want to ask anymore,” Che continued. “That’s kind of the reality and it’s sad.”
He shared that while his brother works for the NYPD, he doesn’t “really like to talk to him about stuff like this. … I can only imagine what it must be like for him to grow up the way we grew up and also have to do his job with people who police the way some of these guys police.”
Che also said that he’s never called 911. “I have a feeling that they’re not for me, and it’s a really sad, unfortunate thing that you don’t realize until you come across people who don’t feel that way,” he explained.
Che added that the protests for the movement make him feel optimistic. “I think the optimism can be seen in these young people, especially the ability to unite and be on the same accord,” he said. “It’s coming across as extremely destructive, but I do think if they channeled it that they could get a lot done that generations before them couldn’t get done. And we’re seeing their power.”
“It was just something that I felt like would have been great for her memory. My grandmother loved helping people,” he said. “She didn’t have much, but anything she could give, she would.”
“It was such an uncertain time for a lot of people where they didn’t know if they were going to have to pay rent. How long were they gonna go without rent? Were they ever gonna get back to work?” he continued. “At least somebody would feel like somebody’s thinking of them in the memory of my grandmother.”
Che also revealed that he was “extremely skeptical” about filming SNL at home, but he was ultimately happy for the distraction. “When we started doing it, I started complaining and being miserable and stressed like a show week would be,” he said. “It kind of took my mind off of the world going insane. So I loved doing it.”
Che shared how running into co-star Aidy Bryant on the street helped him realize how much he missed his work friends. “Seeing her on the street made me remember that I literally haven’t seen these guys in three months,” he said. “When you see them in person, you’re like, ‘Oh man, I miss you!”‘