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Two Comedians Tackling Issues in these Troubled Times; Voting Rights Of Felons in Florida. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 30, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Two comic geniuses who share a rare ability to mine hope in these troubled times, a thoughtful, surprising and, yes, funny conversation with Dave
Chappelle and Jon Stewart.
And with basic civil rights being challenged like never before, our Alicia Menendez talks to two Florida activists, former felons, who are fighting to
restore voting rights to more than a million ex-convicts in Florida.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
America seems more divided than at any time in our recent memory, coming apart at the seams you might say. So, what better time to talk to Dave
Chappelle and Jon Stewart, legends of American comedy and two of the most important voices in contemporary culture.
Both have redefined the boundaries of storytelling. With his sketches on "Chappelle's Show," Dave skewers racial stereotypes and he is an
international sensation. And Jon ever since helming "The Daily Show" became almost more relevant than traditional news anchors with his satire
laser focus on the truth and lies of current political discourse.
Away from the small screen, though, stand-up is a vital part of any comedian's DNA and the two teamed up for rare performances in the United
States and Europe, tackling issues like gun violence, the Twitter era and what it's like to raise kids in 2018 amid mounting political uncertainty.
I caught up with them at London's Royal Albert Hall to see whether comedy can, indeed, at this time help to bridge the political divide.
Jon Stewart, Dave Chappelle, welcome to the program.
DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Thank you.
JON STEWART, FORMER HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Well, firstly, what is it like doing a comedy in here in Albert Hall? Have you ever been in such a hall?
CHAPPELLE: Is there such a hall?
STEWART: No, I don't think there is. It was very royal. It was -- you felt royal. Wrapped in velvet.
AMANPOUR: So, what brings you two together? I know you've done things together before but why now, why here?
CHAPPELLE: Well, it started when I was doing a residency at Radio City. And part of the residency I would have, you know, different comedians and
musicians, we would all come. It was kind of like a great collective or curation of talent.
And this particular night, it was the day that riot happened in Charlottesville.
AMANPOUR: Oh, yes.
CHAPPELLE: You could feel it in the room, that people lose little palpable feelings around it and Jon Stewart showed up that night. And when he went
on, really, like either Jon or Obama are the only people that would have got -- literally, the only ones to get --
STEWART: Obama is a type five on Charlottesville that would have crushed.
CHAPPELLE: No, you could feel the crowed like it was a sigh of relief. You were like a visual queue to be rational and like the set you did that
day was so powerful.
AMANPOUR: Well, this opens up a lot of questions. First and foremost, I was just reading about Lenny Bruce, the great comedian.
AMANPOUR: I think 50 years since he died but all of a sudden, having a resurgence, off Broadway play about to happen, he features in an Amazon
prime series. But --
CHAPPELLE: Lenny Bruce?
AMANPOUR: Lenny Bruce.
CHAPPELLE: His career is going better now.
AMANPOUR: Yes. He's career is going better now. He's having a revival.
CHAPPELLE: He changed agents.
AMANPOUR: But people are saying that, you know, the same things that he was satirizing and making, you know, part of his comedy back then exist
right now. The assault on free speech, the, you know, partitioning of the country along race and religious lines, the protests on the streets and in
Congress. And I wonder whether that affects you and whether you internalize that given what you just said about a rational voice.
STEWART: Well, I don't know about a rational voice but I think we always internalize what's around us. We're comedians and I think we feed off of
whatever the food is of the day that's coming around.
I don't know that, you know, in terms of a resurgence of the country and being divided along racial and class lines and gender lines and all of
that, I feel like that's always with us. It is just at times it's maybe bubbles up more explicitly, but even when you don't say it out loud it
still exists and it's always, you know, foundational. And so, I don't know that it ever goes away.
AMANPOUR: Do you think it is more acute right now?
CHAPPELLE: The division?
CHAPPELLE: No. Man, no. In fact, some of the things they say -- even when they say that Russia influenced the election, it's kind of like, is
Russia making us racist? Is that who's doing it? OK. I thought it was us. I got --
CHAPPELLE: I thought it was us.
AMANPOUR: I haven't thought of it that way.
AMANPOUR: I haven't thought of it that way.
CHAPPELLE: Yes. If they kill the country that way, then we're the murder weapon.
AMANPOUR: So --
STEWART: We have always been.
AMANPOUR: Is the Trump era a good era for comedians? Is it just unbelievable fodder or not?
CHAPPELLE: I would not even name the era after him.
CHAPPELLE: He's getting too much credit.
AMANPOUR: Well, he's the president.
STEWART: He is the president.
CHAPPELLE: He is not making the wave. He's surfing it.
STEWART: Yes. Then, he's just always been there.
CHAPPELLE: He just -- all he does is sing those people's greatest hits. Build a wall. All these things we have heard before. He just sings all
the songs. He is the only one been brash enough to do it.
AMANPOUR: He's been a lot more aggressive towards journalists and reporters. I wonder what you think. I mean, obviously, we're speaking in
a moment when, you know, one of the colleagues has butchered in cold blood.
CHAPPELLE: Right. In Saudi.
AMANPOUR: In a consulate.
AMANPOUR: In Turkey.
CHAPPELLE: That's terrifying.
AMANPOUR: And in that environment, President Trump talks about a candidate running for office who has body slammed a reporter. I'm going to play a
little bit of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Any guy that could do a body slam, he's my kind of -- he's my guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What do you make of that? Because I asked you because you were sort of the gray beard of journalism, almost. I know you hate that. But
when anchors started to be less authoritative than they used to maybe, you know, 20 years ago, you were, for better or for worse, considered somebody
with authority every night.
STEWART: I think we were the protest vote to a large extent. We were none of the above. So, people would say, you know, "Who's the most trusted news
anchor?" And they would list the four network anchors and then they would throw in, you know, my name, none of the above and everybody's like, none
of the above and then circle it. That would go there.
You know, I think that he is a performer. When we do our shows, we do our shows. And no matter if we're sitting in Royal Albert Hall or like when we
were in Copenhagen and we went to this little room called the zoo there was, you know, a 100 Danish speaking somewhat surprised people to see us,
and we sat there and we did our show and we did it.
But Donald Trump is a salesman who changes his pitch depending on who he's in front of. What he doesn't realize is it's all being recorded. And so,
his pitch to that audience is the us versus them. We're all the victims of this liberal media, of these soft journalists who come out here and lie
about us. We're really great people. And that's what he pitches to them and if you ask him about it and say, "Do you think that's OK to body slam a
reporter?" "No, no, no. Of course not. That's -- you know, do not do that. But I was joking. It was a little joke I was making in front of
AMANPOUR: Before we go forward, let's go back to the day after the election. You were hosting "Saturday Night Live" right after the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAPPELLE: Wasn't Donald Trump -- and I'm going do give him a chance and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand he give us one, too. Thank
you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Did that dream, desire come true? Has he given you a chance? Do you still want to give him a chance?
CHAPPELLE: I think I said the right thing at the right time.
CHAPPELLE: You know what I mean? I think that we had to recalibrate and kind of put things in perspective. You know, I'm a Black American, so
we've -- these feelings that people felt right after the election, we felt that many elections consecutively. And I think that, to some degree,
people overreacted. Like the alternative to giving him a chance was storming the streets and if something's good on television they're doing
it. I just feel like --
STEWART: HBO has a lot of offerings right now to keep you from storming.
CHAPPELLE: Yes. "Game of Thrones" is on?
STEWART: That's what I think.
CHAPPELLE: Can't make the riot tonight. But I don't know. Is he doing a good job? Am I happy with what he's doing? No. It's been very difficult
to watch the last couple of years.
STEWART: Harder than I thought it would be in that there was a part of me that thought when you'd get in that room and it's nighttime and there's no
one around and Teddy Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln and everybody's up on the walls and staring at you that that brings a certain cognitive weight to
what you're feeling.
And I imagine he walked in that room, he's like, "Take that down. Take that down. Take that down. Put up dogs playing poker." Kind of felt
like, "Get some French fries around here." You know, I think that oddly enough he transformed the White House and the White House wasn't able to
AMANPOUR: Back in 2015, when he announced for president, you didn't take it entirely seriously.
STEWART: The man came down an escalator.
AMANPOUR: Can I just play what you said?
STEWART: Oh, sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Like many of you, I heard some interesting let's call news today about a certain, let's say, gift from heaven, entering the presidential
race because apparently Huckabee/Santorum wasn't farfetched enough. I got to tell you, the world right now is Whites are Black. Trump's running for
president. Like --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Should you have taken him more seriously? I mean, you're the oracle, Jon.
STEWART: Yes, now. I didn't think -- I thought America was going to go, "Is that an escalator in in a mall? I'm not going to vote for that dude."
Like I didn't think -- A, I didn't think he meant it. And when he gave that speech, quite frankly, I really thought when he said, you know,
"Mexico sends us the worst, rapists and murderers," I really thought he had disqualified himself.
AMANPOUR: Not to mention what he said about women.
STEWART: About women, about everything that he said there. And I thought, "This is disqualifying," for me, though. And clearly, I don't speak for --
you know, he's been very effective at like what Dave said, surfing the waves that have been -- I'm watching the midterms. Man, you would think
the country is Mad Max Thunderdome. This guy is like -- they're coming from Guatemala, they're coming from Mexico. There's a liberal mob that's
coming. Muslims. And you would think everybody in the country's just like, to the bunker. To the ramparts.
AMANPOUR: To that point, it is written about you, Dave, that --
CHAPPELLE: It has been written.
AMANPOUR: -- it has been said you have a singular gift for blurring left and right, red and blue states. What do you think that means, that
somehow, you're able to sort of surf, bring them together, not necessarily get stuck in the political divide?
CHAPPELLE: Because most of the political discussion is so binary and I'm way more interesting than that. It's just a dude.
AMANPOUR: You are way more interested than --
CHAPPELLE: Yes. Most people are.
STEWART: Most people are.
CHAPPELLE: If you talk to them. You know, I have people say, you know, family's not speaking to one another because of politics. That sounds
insane to me. Like there's a ton of people that I love and respect that I completely disagree with.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think -- because, obviously, we are all caught up in this sort of daily Trump fest. I mean, every single newspaper, every radio
station, every bit of social media --
STEWART: You got to make money, too.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's dissecting --
STEWART: You have bills to pay. Man, you got electric bills, you got food. You know, this guy is -- he's giving you all cash. The cash flow in
the Trump era for these TV stations and for these news --
AMANPOUR: Can I say, that might have been an issue and maybe it still is an issue for the people who are the bean counters.
AMANPOUR: But we the journalists, we, I think, believe that our job is to navigate the truth and to do the fact checking and all the rest of it. So,
I think that's what most --
STEWART: But I think the journalists have taken it personally.
AMANPOUR: OK. That's interesting.
STEWART: They are personally wounded and offended by this man. He baits them. And they dive in. And what he's done well, I thought, is appeal to
their own narcissism, to their own ego. Because what he says is these are the -- and the journalists stand up and say, "We are noble. We are
honorable. How dare you, sir?" And they take it personally and now he has changed the conversation to not that his policies are silly or not working
or any of those other things, it's all about the fight. He is able to tune out everything else and get people just focused on the fight. And he's
going to win that fight.
AMANPOUR: You know, even Bob Woodward said that, in his book on the Trump White House, that a lot of journalists are too emotional about this. But
it's hard for us to be dispassionate when words from the White House are aggressive against us and, you know, raise the spectrum of violence against
STEWART: You're not used to it. Think of the communities --
AMANPOUR: No, no, we are used to it. Believe me.
STEWART: But think of the communities --
AMANPOUR: We've been out there in the field.
STEWART: -- of color. Think of Muslims. Think of the Black community, people. You know, when journalists rise to this outrage of how dare you
say this about us, think about the lives that they have been leading under this and --
AMANPOUR: All right.
STEWART: -- what they have been put under.
AMANPOUR: So, you have said, artists can transcend race like nobody can.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me about that. Tell me how you do that and why you do in it a way that others can't.
CHAPPELLE: I mean, even if we look like in the early days of bebop and jazz, like the bandstand was integrated decades before the country was.
The artists, we look and it's -- artist is such a beautiful thing to look at that one forget certain lines that one should not transgress socially in
the pursuit of art. If someone's good at something, you want to be with that person. No matter what color, race, gender, if they got did gift.
Artists are -- transcends everything.
STEWART: Hopefully, it articulates something human, not something purely sectarian.
AMANPOUR: And comedy -- Steve Martin said this and others have said it and you have said it in a different way --
STEWART: You got a good research department.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.
STEWART: Of course --
AMANPOUR: Comedy is not always nice. It can be really mean and it can push boundaries to a place where some people feel real -- really offended.
Is that because everybody is a snowflake or does comedy -- should comedy have certain boundaries at all?
STEWART: Well, I think there's somewhat separate questions.
AMANPOUR: Are they?
STEWART: Comedy's boundaries should be excellence. So, whatever it is that you're talking about in terms of subject matter, if you're just
napalming, you know, indiscriminately to provoke, then to me, that's not really comedy. Comedy should be something more human and truly believed
and -- but I don't put any line on it. And I'm always fascinated when they say, you know, "Where do comedians draw the line?" But nobody ever goes
and says to Donald Trump, "Where do presidents draw the line?" You know, we add insult sometimes to injury. But --
CHAPPELLE: Horse face. I think you should --
STEWART: Horse face.
CHAPPELLE: -- draw the line at horse face.
STEWART: Right. But --
AMANPOUR: Which, as we know, is what he called Stormy Daniels.
STEWART: That's right.
STEWART: But I'm more -- again, I'm less interested in his insults and more interested in his injuries, in the people that are being hurt. Not
the people that are being insulted but are being hurt.
AMANPOUR: I was going to ask you about Louis C.K.
AMANPOUR: Because, obviously, everybody's talking about it, you know, and --
STEWART: I don't know about everybody.
AMANPOUR: Well, a lot of people.
STEWART: All right. Because my mom hasn't mentioned it.
AMANPOUR: Has she never?
STEWART: She's never mentioned it.
AMANPOUR: She's never said, "Jon, would you have done that?"
STEWART: She never said, "Jon, are you -- is Louis C.K. going to go back on stage?" She really -- she's more -- she think about other things.
AMANPOUR: Well, you said comedy is not particularly a very friendly place for women in comedy.
STEWART: It has not been, no.
AMANPOUR: Do you think that might change?
STEWART: Well, hopefully it changes --
STEWART: -- in all --
AMANPOUR: The better question is, why is it not friendly for women?
STEWART: Well, that's a good question. You know, the roots of it, I don't know. I mean, I think it started out as a male dominated field. It's not
a particularly welcoming field. You sort of have to come out there and cut your teeth on it.
I think in general, most things are not -- I'll tell you a story. So, we had on "The Daily Show" there was an article about us said, you know, it's
a sexist environment. We didn't have women writers. And I got very offended by that. You know, I was very mad. I was like, "You're saying
I'm not -- " you know, I was raised by a single mother. She wore a t-shirt that said a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. And me and my
brother were like, "I think we might be men. This is terrible."
So, I was mad. You know, how can they say such a thing? And I went back to the writers' room, and I was like, "Do you believe this, Steve? What do
you think, Greg? Dave? Tom? Mike?" And then I was like, "Oh."
STEWART: And it was right. But the reason it was right was not necessarily one that we had seen before. Our ignorance to it was such that
-- so, we had put in a system of getting writers where there were no names on it. We thought that's color blind, gender blind, et cetera. But what
you don't realize is the system itself, the tributaries that feed us those submissions, is polluted, as well. So, all we are getting are White males
who had been to (INAUDIBLE) Colleges and wrote for the lampoon or, you know, funny Jewish guys from Brown.
And so, what you had to say then is, "Send me not that. Send me your women. Send me people of color." And then, we would get the submissions
and go, "I can't believe how funny women have gotten just recently."
STEWART: But do you see what I'm saying?
AMANPOUR: I do see what you're saying, yes.
STEWART: It's a systemic issue. And I think what can mostly help change is when you open up new tributaries to bring in talent and then they grow
and then they help grow their community --
AMANPOUR: 100 percent.
STEWART: -- and tell their stories, and that's the most important thing.
AMANPOUR: 100 percent. Can I just move from gender to race then, because, obviously, there have been very, very, very funny Black comedians or
African-American comedians? And I read, also, that, you know, obviously, Bill Cosby was a hero to many in the Black and White community, frankly.
And I think he was at one point a hero to you.
CHAPPELLE: Oh, absolutely.
AMANPOUR: Yes. If he was your hero, how difficult was it -- how hard was it for you to get to grips with the transgressions against women?
CHAPPELLE: It was -- it's a nightmare to see a hero fall that heinously. Like literally -- I talked about it on one of my specials and someone had
said I was defending him and I was like, "Defending him? I was mourning." Like, the loss of a hero. It's a terrible thing. It was a terrible,
terrible thing to watch.
I got to tell you, seeing him get perp walked at 81 was devastating for every Black comedian, every -- like, oh, my God, this is terrible. I joked
about it before. I will say, "All my heroes was either murdered by the government or registered sex offenders." It is a sad state of affairs.
AMANPOUR: So, then, what is the right way for anybody to rehabilitate themselves? Louis C.K. who I started to talk about, you know, did what he
did, you know, without consent of the women who he did it in front of. And then he pops into the comedy cellar in the village and he does an act,
again, without consent of the audience, they didn't know he was going to be there. Be that as it may, what is the --
STEWART: That's why I always get consent of the audience. I go around and I make sure that everybody signs.
CHAPPELLE: You guys cool with me going on right now?
STEWART: Cool, right? I'm going to go on in 15.
AMANPOUR: But here's the situation.
AMANPOUR: The guy who runs the comedy cellar --
AMANPOUR: -- got into some flak for it, so do Louis C.K. for not even talking about it, not acknowledging it, now apologizing or whatever.
CHAPPELLE: I don't know that he didn't acknowledge it. I read that --
AMANPOUR: Well, apparently, he didn't --
AMANPOUR: -- according to the initial reporting and the initial appearance.
CHAPPELLE: I mean, I know I read in the paper but I also know what I heard on the streets.
CHAPPELLE: And of course, from a comic -- we know a few eyewitnesses.
STEWART: It's a slightly different version.
STEWART: But, either way, the point is --
AMANPOUR: Either way, what should be the right way for society to deal with somebody like Louis C.K.? Should he be forever banned from his job or
should he be reprimanded or should there be --
STEWART: Well, I think the question itself is somewhat unanswerable. You know, when you talk about the right way in society to rehabilitate, it's
something we have struggle within the criminal justice system forever.
CHAPPELLE: Yes. We know how rehabilitative that system is.
STEWART: Right. So --
AMANPOUR: No. But this is much different because there are shades of gray in this whole area and there's been a lot of Black and White activity since
#MeToo began and now, people are saying, especially men, there needs to be some kind of parameters that we all know.
STEWART: But it's nascent. It's nascent. It's in its embryonic stages.
AMANPOUR: So, what should he do to come back on stage or is he doing the right thing?
STEWART: Well, that said, you know, again, you -- there is no recipe, there is no model that can be put together and say if he did one, two and
three everybody will be cool. I don't think it works that way. This is something that we find together as a society. But it's not -- I don't know
that you can say there's a formula here that makes sense.
I'm a believer in restorative justice, in the idea that when transgressions occur that the parties must participate, together to bring themselves to
some conclusion. But the truth is, you won't find 100 percent. You can't say, "What's the right way to do this so that everybody will be OK?"
because they won't.
CHAPPELLE: Yes. Where is the forum to build the consensus?
CHAPPELLE: Yes. I don't see --
STEWART: We're a society now of reactionary. You know, we have taken on - -
STEWART: News has taken on the circadian rhythm of Twitter as thought that -- and it is our most emotional form of communication.
AMANPOUR: Now, Jon --
STEWART: I'm sorry.
AMANPOUR: -- I'm going to push back on you there.
AMANPOUR: We are doing our job here. We are trying to, you know, navigate a new normal that has been thrust on the world.
STEWART: But would you say that there is an overemphasis within many in the mainstream media, on Twitter, as a reliable arbiter of the emotional
state of an issue?
AMANPOUR: I think less. I think Twitter is having less of an effect on us. But I do think you are right in that every tweet is dissected. And I
grapple with the idea of overemotionally --
STEWART: I would like to see you grapple.
AMANPOUR: I'm grappling, believe me , every night I grapple. I grapple with the issues versus --
STEWART: I like it.
AMANPOUR: -- the hysteria --
STEWART: That's right.
AMANPOUR: -- and the emotion. Most --
STEWART: And I think 140 or 280 characters is not a welcomed forum for that type of grappling but it's certainly a seductive forum.
AMANPOUR: But our hour-long show is a very welcomed forum and a great forum.
STEWART: Very welcome. That's why I never miss it. What time is it on and what day?
AMANPOUR: Now --
STEWART: I'm not on Twitter.
CHAPPELLE: Yes. See, me neither.
AMANPOUR: That's -- well, that's interesting because that's now going to --
CHAPPELLE: That's my new movement. Me neither.
AMANPOUR: So, that --
CHAPPELLE: No hash tag now because we're not on Twitter.
AMANPOUR: You famously walked away from a very, very lucrative career on comedy central. People say there was like $50 million left on the table.
And what was your issue with fame and fortune and publicity?
CHAPPELLE: I don't know if my issue was with fame and fortune. But I do know that after -- the other side of that was after I left, I didn't think
that I would ever work in this capacity again. And I redefined success for myself. I raised some kids. I had a happy life. You know what I mean?
AMANPOUR: OK. That's really important. Flesh that out.
CHAPPELLE: Having --
CHAPPELLE: Having a happy life?
CHAPPELLE: I get up in the morning. My days are fairly predictable. Most of the things that I do I because I want to not because I have to. Kids
are healthy. No one's mad at me. No one's afraid of anything real or there's nothing probably to be afraid to be of. We laugh a lot. I see
friends of mine on a fairly regular basis and there's a happy life.
AMANPOUR: So, I said, you know, you tend -- you're known for blurring lines between various sides of the coin. You yourself are African-
American, you're Muslim, you don't talk much about your religion, you are married to a Filipino, you have three biracial children. It's a very --
it's a polyglot. I mean, it's a melting pot right there.
CHAPPELLE: Yeah, I guess. But I only -- you know, I --
STEWART: You make it sound conscious.
STEWART: I think, you know, you're --
CHAPPELLE: I love who I love.
STEWART: I think often times -- he loves who he loves. But people are defining those lines as though they're not supposed to be blurred. But if
you don't define those lines, then he's not blurring. He doesn't -- his family is not a blur.
CHAPPELLE: The last 12 years were.
STEWART: That's a beautiful unit. It's -- I don't -- those lines can be defined by others but that's not --
AMANPOUR: But others are.
CHAPPELLE: The lines don't -- a life well lived, I think these lines will mean less and less. You know, legitimately --
AMANPOUR: I mean, I hope so.
CHAPPELLE: It doesn't mean I'm not aware of the lines but, you know, I'm fortunate enough that I can transcend them on many occasions.
AMANPOUR: I mean, I started by asking you why here and other. What is it that you two want to say together to the world today?
CHAPPELLE: I'm glad you asked.
AMANPOUR: Beyond just lucrative, you know, comedy and all the -- you know, what is your manifesto, Jon?
STEWART: Again, I think that there is --
CHAPPELLE: I'm glad you asked.
STEWART: -- a slight misconception. So, we started out in comedy together. I have known Dave since he was a 17-year-old young man who came
into the Comedy Cellar and just blew us all away with -- you don't see people with that just ability and insight at that age.
And it -- and I think, from that moment, I've just always been so respectful and honored to be around him and to listen to him and talk to
him. He's such a thoughtful and insightful individual.
CHAPPELLE: Thanks, man.
STEWART: And comedy is about, for us, the hang. It is about the hang. It is about getting to a certain point where you go out. It -- when you're
starting out, it can be very solitary and you are on the road and in places you don't know and they're not necessarily tricked out theaters where Queen
Victoria has her own box. You know, you are in Walnut Creek and you're staying on the side of a road somewhere.
And for me, this has been a wonderful just reconnection to that life I had but at a much better level and place. And I feel like part of what we do
here is just have a really great time together and have a great time with the friends and family that are with us and communicate with the audience
is our thing and react with them and interact with them. And it's just -- it's a wonderful way to spend a week.
CHAPPELLE: I think what -- and one thing Jon brings -- I have been touring forever. One of the things that's special about touring with him is,
collectively, I think the crowd listens differently than the average comedy crowd. I think a lot of people see our names on the bill and they come to
get like the political word but it's not even that, it really is just a great comedy show. And I love traveling the world this way because --
CHAPPELLE: - you know, a lot of people been to Copenhagen but a lot of people don't know what the crowd in Copenhagen feels like or London feels
like. It is a great way to engage a city or a place.
AMANPOUR: And how is it different? Can you tell me what's different between the crowd in New York and Copenhagen and London?
CHAPPELLE: Sadly, because of the internet, sadly, places aren't as diverse as they used to be. Everything -- everyone does kind of eat from the same
trough now. However, European crowds listen more than they do in America. America, it's not that they don't listen in the States, but, you know, we
are a raucous bunch and here they have really good performance etiquette. If they go to see a show, they go to see a show.
STEWART: Wildly polite.
AMANPOUR: And that's good?
CHAPPELLE: Yes. It's an adjustment. We had to get used to it.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, do you get -- as much feedback?
STEWART: Well, it's a different -- well, first of all, when we first were performing, it was Copenhagen and it was --
STEWART: -- Stockholm. And so, there -- we like to think that comedy is somewhat nuanced of language and somewhat precise of language and that
those nuances mean something. And they're taking it in as their second language.
And so, I thought there would be a lag where they would go on like Google translate.
CHAPPELLE: And just be like --
STEWART: Oh, yes. That's nice. Like it would have been performing at the U.N. where everybody has headphones and then they'll hear it finally in
Swedish and go, "Yes. Son of a bitch, that's funny." But it wasn't.
[14:30:00] They really took to it very naturally but there is definitely a sense of they really want to hear you. Like I don't know that in the stage
we've ever performed somewhere where people were just like, you know, this is exciting for us and we really want to hear what you are saying.
CHAPPELLE: The American rules of engagement are different.
STEWART: The expectation of comedy is different. In America, there's more of a sense of like we are also part of the show. I'm going to throw my two
cents in and that's going to make it, you know, even better. I have had hecklers many times come up afterwards and go like, "I helped you out
there, didn't I?" Actually, I had some things planned out so you didn't really.
But I've enjoyed seeing -- I've never really gotten to travel, seeing the lifestyle of like Copenhagen, seeing -- and I will say this too, it's
really interesting and even a Scandinavian country, they don't blur the lines. They don't have the same divisions in some respects that we have
racially or religiously. It's very interesting.
AMANPOUR: That's why when I asked you these questions, I come from a slightly different perspective than the United States.
AMANPOUR: You just said, you know, you like the hang. I assume you mean hanging out.
AMANPOUR: Is that the hang?
STEWART: I like to throw that slang around.
AMANPOUR: And I got to try to pick it up.
STEWART: I like to hang when I'm gigging.
CHAPPELLE: Is it the same in journalism? Do you like --
AMANPOUR: Yes, we like to hang. Yes, especially on the road. Especially on the road. That's really -- that's a little bit like what you do.
CHAPPELLE: It's the same.
AMANPOUR: But with bullets and bombs and things flying.
CHAPPELLE: Right. And you talk about, you know, your perspective on working on a story.
AMANPOUR: Yes, we really like it. It's the comradery. It's all being on the same --
CHAPPELLE: Yes, shoulder to shoulder.
AMANPOUR: -- space, same level, shoulder to shoulder. And hanging --
STEWART: Right. And being out of your comfort zone.
AMANPOUR: And being out of your comfort zone.
CHAPPELLE: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: So are you happy out of your comfort zone since "The Daily Show"? Do you miss it? Do you wish you were still there given the Trump
era which you refuse to allow me to say?
CHAPPELLE: Can we call this the Lil Wayne era?
STEWART: Now that carter five is out, we have to call it the Lil Wayne era. It was time for me to leave the show.
AMANPOUR: I know you said that before.
STEWART: That was the right choice.
AMANPOUR: Yes, that you said before.
STEWART: Yes, I'm slightly different than Dave. I waited until I got paid. Similar. I went and I'm raising kids and trying, you know, but also
trying to live a more I think richer balanced life. I was really focused on that. I knew it was my last shot. It was something I believed
passionately in but I did it to the best of my ability as far as I could go.
CHAPPELLE: Did you do stand-up when you were gone?
STEWART: Very little. Like I would do it on the weekends and stuff, you know? But not a ton and I miss that.
AMANPOUR: You mean, when you were doing "The Daily Show", you didn't do stand-up?
STEWART: That's right.
AMANPOUR: Is that what you asked?
STEWART: I thought -- yes, is that what you mean?
AMANPOUR: No, afterwards.
CHAPPELLE: No, after you left the show.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I thought he meant afterwards.
STEWART: It took me a while. It really ignited the night that Dave was at Radio City and he had been curating these great shows. And he had Chance
the Rapper and Hannibal Burris and John Meyer on this one show. And I came out because I was -- I had been watching Charlottesville all day.
And I came on and I said, Dave, can I just come on and do like 10? Great. And I just -- I remembered how much I love that forum and the mediacy of it
and the hang of it and being surrounded by your peers.
CHAPPELLE: I got to say one thing that's very impressive. The fact that he hasn't been doing stand-up and will come back and perform at the level
that he has been.
CHAPPELLE: He's beyond muscleman, that's badass.
STEWART: We have had great shows, just great. And the way that the crowd reacts, it's just been an amazing experience. We have done stuff in
Atlanta and Houston, El Paso and Europe and Iceland.
AMANPOUR: And you're going to direct again. Is that right?
STEWART: Yes, I wrote something that I'm going to direct.
AMANPOUR: Do we know what it is?
STEWART: I don't. I haven't read it. I wrote it but I haven't read it.
AMANPOUR: So you don't want to tell us.
STEWART: Don't tell me how it ends.
AMANPOUR: You don't want to tell me what's good? And you guys just watched "A Star is Born".
AMANPOUR: It was amazing.
STEWART: Made me cry.
AMANPOUR: Your performance or the film?
STEWART: The film.
AMANPOUR: Yes, me too.
CHAPPELLE: Yes, I also cried.
AMANPOUR: But I was absolutely staggered by the electricity between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. You see an actor trying out being a singer
in public for the first time as far as we know and a singer trying out to be an actor for the first time. And two at the top of their game trying
each other's thing. I thought that was phenomenal.
CHAPPELLE: It was amazing to see up close, man. It was amazing. It's funny. I met Bradley Cooper here in London when he was doing a show on the
west end and I knew he was cooking up something.
AMANPOUR: Elephant Man.
CHAPPELLE: Yes, he was doing Elephant Man and he was working on "A Star is Born".
AMANPOUR: And how did you get the part?
CHAPPELLE: He asked me. I didn't know if it was going to be good. I've never seen any of the other movies but he just asked. I've only done two
movies in the last 18 years. One was with Spike because he just asked me and one was with Bradley because he asked me.
STEWART: Spike was here last night too. When you hang with Dave, there's a carnival of talent that comes with it. There was Spike Lee and Janet
Jackson and Naomi Campbell, all these people that he has cultivated. He is a great curator of talent. And so I have been very happy to bask in the
reflective light of that although I also had a visitor.
I think it was in Stockholm. It was my kids' fifth-grade teacher's sister came, not as accomplished but still --
AMANPOUR: Be careful. She is going to get offended.
STEWART: She is going to get offended.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I would say she's just as accomplished but in a different way.
STEWART: I think she knows she is not at Janet Jackson's level. I think she feels that but that's what's -- you know? He can -- and I don't know
how it happens but he draws in talents from these various areas and they come together and it's like those salons, like those old kinds of what you
imagine the way it used to be and it creates a really nice alchemy, a really interesting vibe.
CHAPPELLE: You know, it is funny, I don't do press. I only did this so I could meet you.
STEWART: See? Now you are in the group.
AMANPOUR: Oh, I want to hang on your group.
CHAPPELLE: I'm serious.
AMANPOUR: No, I'd love to be.
Jon Stewart, Dave Chappelle, thank you so much.
CHAPPELLE: My pleasure.
STEWART: Nice to see you.
AMANPOUR: Pleasure. Nice to see you.
CHAPPELLE: Jon, you know everybody.
CHAPPELLE: That's the other thing.
AMANPOUR: Turning now to real retail politics and next week's pivotal midterms. In the current climate, basic civil rights are under threat,
whether it is President Trump suggesting that he wants to remove automatic birthright citizenship that's by the way constitutionally protected or
indeed over voter rights. We have reported before about voter suppression.
And now we bring you two Florida men who are leading the fight to restore voting rights to more than one-and-a-half million citizens of their state.
They are convicted felons. Now, Desmond Meade and Neil Volz are activists behind Amendment Four but as former convicts themselves, they can't vote on
their own initiative.
Meade who served time for drug and weapons charges is now a practicing attorney. Volz, a former Republican political operative was sentenced in a
lobbying scandal. And together, they're galvanizing broad support for a simple premise. Once you've paid your debt to society, you should be able
to become a full citizen again and that means being able to vote, too.
Our Alicia Menendez talked to them in Miami.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you both so much for being here.
NEIL VOLZ, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, FLORIDA RIGHTS RESTORATION COALITION: Thanks for having us.
DESMOND MEADE, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA RIGHTS RESTORATION COALITION: Thank you.
MENENDEZ: Desmond, can you tell me what Amendment Four is?
MEADE: Yes. Amendment Four is a Constitutional Amendment that will restore the eligibility to vote for individuals who have previously been
convicted of a felony offense. The requirement is that they must complete all portions of their sentence as ordered by a judge. And once that
occurs, then they're able to have the eligibility to vote. The Amendment, however, would not apply to individuals who were convicted of murder or
individuals who were convicted of felony sexual offenses.
MENENDEZ: So who qualifies as a felon?
MEADE: Anyone in the State of Florida who's been convicted of a felony offense and, you know, one of the myths that we try to debunk early on is
that a lot of people when they think of felons, they think of the worst things in the world. But it is so easy in Florida to get a felony
You know something as simple as burning a tire in public or driving with a suspended license or even trespassing on a construction site or releasing
helium-filled balloons, those things can allow someone to get a felony conviction. And if they live in Florida that they will lose their right
VOLZ: And I think one of the things, if I could just add to that, you see that play out in the court system because, in Florida, 75 percent of the
people who are sentenced with felony convictions actually aren't sentenced to prison. So people are in our communities, in our church pews, sometimes
are pastors, are bosses, they're working with us, they're at school. And so this really is something that impacts everybody.
MENENDEZ: Why approach this as a Constitutional Amendment?
VOLZ: We approach this as a Constitutional Amendment because elected officials and politicians have been talking about changing this for years
and years and years. And the truth is, this came out of the pain of people who are dealing with the system that's wildly broken, a system that has us,
one of four states that permanently bars people from being full citizens in their community in this way.
And we are just trying to do what other states like Texas and Georgia [14:40:00] have already done and that is basically to adhere to a principle
that when a debt is paid, it's paid. And when you've paid your debt, then you're able to become a full citizen in your community again.
MENENDEZ: It is often portrayed as an issue that affects almost exclusively communities of color when in fact that is not the reality.
VOLZ: No, that's exactly right. And we appreciate that question because while the African-American community is disproportionately impacted, there
is a long history that got us to this point. The truth is this cancer that started 150 years ago after the Civil War has grown to a place where it
impacts the entire state.
Every community's impacted by this. And two-thirds of those who are formerly convicted, people like myself, are not African-American. They
look more like me than they do Desmond. And so it's important for people to understand that this is an everybody issue and that there's impact in
MENENDEZ: What is the pushback you most often get?
VOLZ: For me, what I get sometimes is a reaction that somebody thinks that this has something to do with crime. You know. Hey, if you did the crime,
you should do the time. And what I found is that, you know, I'm somebody who's looking for grace, right? So I need to give that person grace and
ask them, well, why do you think that? Why is that reaction when you hear about this issue?
And what I have seen over and over and over again, what we have seen over and over again is when somebody gets the chance to actually sit down and
think about this issue and how broken our system is and how all the data shows that if we take this step, we can help create safer communities and
stronger families and change lives in the process, then it's a true win- win. You start to see the kind of support that we are seeing right now in the polls.
MENENDEZ: How does this make communities safer?
VOLZ: So this makes communities safer because all the data shows, the data on the right, the data on the left, data from universities, from all sides
show that the quicker people are able to reintegrate into their communities, the less likely they are to re-offend. And when you start
doing the numbers and you start thinking about the tax dollars saved and the less crime that's going to happen because of it, this actually impacts
every community in Florida. And it's a real win-win when you start thinking about the practical impacts that this can have.
MENENDEZ: So this issue is deeply personal for both of you. Can you tell us a little bit about your story?
MEADE: So all of my charges came because of my addiction to drugs. And so I have a lot of possession of drug charges, drug possession charges. And
eventually, a gun was found in my home and I was also charged with that. That was the last charge I received I think in 2001. And I was sentenced
to prison. Initially, 15-year sentence but it was reduced to three and I was released in 2004.
I remember being a homeless person and walking the streets. Not much hope, you know. And eventually, my steps took me to railroad tracks and I stood
there waiting on a train to come so I can jump in front of it. I was recently released from prison. I was unemployed. I was addicted to drugs.
Didn't have anything but my clothes that I was wearing. But the train didn't come that day and I ended up crossing those tracks and I checked
myself into drug treatment.
From there, I moved into a homeless shelter, not too far from here, Chapman Partnership. And while there, I decided to enroll in school. And I
enrolled at Miami-Dade College and things went well for me there academically and eventually, I was accepted into Law School at Florida
International University College of Law. And in May of 2014, I eventually graduated with a Jurist Doctor Degree.
VOLZ: I got my felony conviction 12 years ago and I was working in Washington at the time. I spent years up there working in Republican
politics and I was chief of staff for a member of Congress and then I went and worked as a lobbyist for a law firm. And I got selfish and greedy and
I started to make some stupid decisions and I crossed lines that I shouldn't have crossed and got in trouble, conspiracy charge on a services
fraud was the count.
MENENDEZ: That became a big national story.
VOLZ: Yes, it was a political scandal and I played a role in that. And I had to deal with the shame and the guilt and of, you know, my own decisions
and their impact on me, those people around me, my loved ones, my family. And that really put me in a tailspin. And ultimately, over some time I
ended up moving to Florida and that's where I started to begin to put my life back together again.
MENENDEZ: If you win on election day, what will that mean more broadly for criminal justice reform?
VOLZ: Well, when I think about election day, I think about the families who are involved. I think about the individuals, the moms, the dads, the
aunts, the uncles, [14:45:00] the people who have been, you know, working with us and a part of this movement for years. And when I think about
election day, I think about people getting their voice back and people having a seat at the table.
And so we are not a hundred percent sure, you know, kind of next steps. We are really focused right now on this part of the process. But I think
about it as a movement because this has taken years and it is people who have led the charge. And you know what? On election day, if this passes,
they're going to have their voices heard in their communities and that's going to be an election of school board or the ability to have a say over
something that impacts how their mom or dad is, you know, treated at the -- by the hospital or what have you.
It has a lot of different impacts and there will be plenty of time for us to really dig in all those things. But for me, it's like kind of, man,
people are getting their voice back.
MEADE: I think it's something even deeper than criminal justice reform what we are touching on. When you talk about -- what I get most excited
about is the way how we got here, right? And you're going to keep hearing me saying it over and over again.
People from all walks of life, I think that we have something special here because with issue as controversial as voting and dealing with felons in
the State of Florida, for us to get to where we're at right now, polling at super majority with no opposition, right? And being supported from
organizations, from Koch industries all the way to the ACLU, Christian Coalition all the way to the AME churches, the evangelicals, Latino
evangelicals, and Florida Tax Watch, to have such a broad spectrum of support above the ground and on the ground says something special about
What it says is that people can come together along the lines of humanity and shed their partisan differences. They can shed their racial anxieties
and come together as human beings and make something special happen. That right there to me means that we are -- we could be a bright spot in this
In times of these when there's so much division among people along the lines of race and along the lines of partisan politics, to see people come
together in the State of Florida around the issue like this and you have unity from all walks of life, that I think can be an example of how we can
move forward in this country.
MENENDEZ: There are people who will look at the two of you and say your stories are anomalous. Not everyone becomes a JD after going to prison.
What do you say to that?
MEADE: I mean it's true but, you know, I think that you know, when you look across this country, there are so many amazing stories of returning
citizens who have defied the odds and become -- you know, you have Shon Hopwood who teaches law at Georgetown. You have Tarra Simmons in the State
of Washington. You have Bruce Riley in Louisiana. You know? And so, so many others that have done amazing, amazing work in the community and have
turned their life around.
Now, what I do say is that we shouldn't have to go that far in order to earn eligibility to vote back. I think that once you have served your time
as ordered by a judge, you know, and that's very important because when you talk about that exchange there or that interaction and that experience,
that, you know, I'm in a courtroom and you have a judge and I have a prosecutor that knows everything about me, that knows everything about that
case, right? And they made the determination based on the totality of circumstances that I should serve a certain amount of time. And once I
serve that, my debt is paid.
These are experts that we put in place to make these determinations and they made that determination. And once I serve that time, then I should be
able to move on with my life.
MENENDEZ: As Republican, how do you feel about Republicans' general response to this issue?
VOLZ: Yes, you know what, I found that people from all political persuasions are opened to listening to what it is that Amendment Four is
all about. And so we see support, majority supports, superb majority support from Republicans, Independents, Democrats.
MENENDEZ: I don't mean voters though. I mean legislators, governors.
VOLZ: Yes, the truth is we're very focused on people, you know. This movement matters to us and we were collecting petitions and knocking on
doors and talking to people long before the names of those who are running were even something to think about. And so for us, it's always been about
talking to people. And that is going into -- you know, I was at Bike Fest a couple of days ago and, my goodness, the support was overwhelming. So
you have people ahead of the politicians when it comes to Amendment Four.
MEADE: We never went to politicians with this [14:50:00] because it's been in the hands -- it was in their hands far too long and the beauty about
this is that we did this in spite of politicians. We did this in spite of partisan politics and we like to keep it that way.
MENENDEZ: Where are your politics?
MEADE: Listen, we are fighting just as hard, if not harder, for that person that wished they could have voted for Donald Trump as that person
that wanted to vote for Barack Obama. We don't care how a person votes. What we care about is that once you've completely served all portions of
your sentence that you'd be given an opportunity to have your voice heard. That's what matters most.
MENENDEZ: You say that, though, understanding that there is a perception that most of the people who you will then make eligible to vote will want
to vote for Democrats, rather than voting for Republicans.
MEADE: That's a great question because it deals with a narrative, a false narrative, that have been perpetuated for quite some time.
MENENDEZ: By who?
MEADE: By everyone. By everyone, whether they're Democrats, whether they're Republicans. As a matter of fact, maybe I'm to blame, as well.
Because what happens is that we have created an illusion that the people whose rights are restored are going to be mainly African-American and
people coming out of prison.
The reality is that in Florida, African-Americans only account for a third of the people who have lost their right to vote. And when you talk about
people who are in prison, we have to understand that Florida convicts over 170,000 people each year. Out of that 170,000, less than 25 percent are
even sentenced to prison.
So the overwhelming majority of people who we're talking about, who are impacted are people who, number one, do not look like me. And number two,
are not coming out of prison. And so that just destroys that narrative or that myth that was built on this thing that, well, African-Americans always
get in trouble. They're the majority of the people in prison. This is for people out of prison so therefore African-Americans are going to vote
Democrat, you know. And that could be the furthest from the truth.
VOLZ: Yes. And the truth is that is how the storyline goes. How we get to this false narrative is based on this idea that the majority of folks
impacted are African-American and then you look at voting numbers and then you make the leap to a partisan conclusion.
I've been in so many meetings with people and I love this moment when folks, 10 or 12 of us, returning citizens sitting around and somebody asks,
"Oh, hey, you're Republican or Democrat?" We are not allowed to sit in those seats in this state. We don't get to be a Republican or Democrat
because we're precluded from the process.
And so the idea that somebody wants to project on to us, who we are, and how we're going to make decisions in the future just doesn't make any sense
and it really isn't backed up by any data on any side. And so we are just focused on whether people can vote and not how they can vote because it's
the right thing to do.
MENENDEZ: What has your experience taught both of you about the power of forgiveness and second chances?
MEADE: This journey, this journey has really taught me the power of humanity, about really connecting with folks. You know, I'm sitting next
to this guy here. He is Conservative, white guy here, and I consider him my brother. And our current environment tells me that he's supposed to be
my enemy. But in reality, he's my bedrock in this fight.
If nothing else, I think that this journey has taught me that if we just take a moment to just be in close proximity to each other and to have a
conversation with each other, there's so much more that we can accomplish because we have so much more in common than we have that separates us.
VOLZ: I would add to that. Watching Desmond lead and knowing his story and knowing our stories and knowing the stories of so many people who have
come alongside of us -- I'm a person of faith and I believe that God uses people who are broken and hurting, the outcast, the underdogs, those who
have been left behind to bring about change in our communities.
And for me, this journey has been a verification of beliefs that are very dear to me and I see them play out in people like Des and others and
myself. You know, to know that we're being used for something that's bigger than
ourselves is incredibly empowering. And I love to see somebody whose voice was silenced, whether by themselves or by somebody else to actually step up
and share in front of an entire room of people, "Hey, let me tell you about my felony conviction" and to know that a year ago, they wouldn't even tell
that to their best friend. That's powerful.
MEADE: America loves a good comeback story.
MENENDEZ: Thank you both so much.
MEADE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So that's a powerful movement and as they say a unifying one because a new poll shows that Amendment Four has garnered almost 70 percent
support among Florida voters.
[14:55:00] That is it for our program. Thanks for watching.
And remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Goodbye from New York.