Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Tosser: Banana peel at Chappelle show was a joke

SANTA FE – A self-described court jester who threw a banana peel and hit comedian Dave Chappelle onstage Monday night insists he’s not a racist and that Chappelle should be able to take a joke.

“I thought a joker could take a joke,” Christian Englander said Wednesday afternoon at a Santa Fe shopping center near his home.

He said he considered throwing the banana peel part of standard heckling of a stand-up comic, like throwing a rotten tomato.

Christian Englander, 30, of Santa Fe, who was arrested after he threw a banana peel at African-American comic Dave Chappele on Monday night, says his actions weren’t racially motivated. “I thought a joker could take a joke,” Englander said. (Andy Stiny/Albuquerque Journal)

Christian Englander, 30, of Santa Fe, who was arrested after he threw a banana peel at African-American comic Dave Chappele on Monday night, says his actions weren’t racially motivated. “I thought a joker could take a joke,” Englander said. (Andy Stiny/Albuquerque Journal)

“I’m sorry that my joke was misconstrued as a racial attack on Dave Chappelle,” he said.

Englander, 30, was upbeat and wearing a colorful West African outfit with a banana in his pocket as he recounted the events that landed him in jail, charged with battery and disorderly conduct.

He said he makes his living as a joker and an artist, grew up in Hawaii and has lived in Santa Fe on and off since 1988. During the interview, he wore a baseball hat backward with a flower and a “joker” playing card tucked underneath.

“I now understand how people misconstrued it and that had to be explained to me while I was in jail,” he said. “I don’t come from a racist family.”

“If I was racially trying to imply that he (Chappelle) was a monkey, I would have thrown him a full banana, not my banana peel. I’m the monkey. I’m the drunken monkey, I drink my ’99 Banana’ shot and chased it with a banana.” Asked it he was drunk at the time, he said, “I definitely felt warm and fuzzy.”

According to a police report, he told officers he stopped by a convenience store to buy a banana and the banana-flavored liquor before going to the Chappelle show. He ate the banana, put the peel in his pocket, and drank a shot of the liquor.

He appeared “highly intoxicated” after the arrest, the police statement said.

Englander has been condemned as a racist in online posts and in headlines around the country and the world for throwing the banana peel at Chappelle, the well-known African-American comic who formerly had his own television series and has appeared in numerous films.

Police maintain Englander made “racially motivated” comments during a meeting with Chappelle after the comedian had finished the second of two shows at Santa Fe’s Lensic Performing Arts Center.

Chappelle asked for the meeting after his performance.

Englander said he went to the Lensic via skateboard “ecstatic that one of my comic heros was coming to my town.”

He said heckling is a stand-up comedy tradition. “It’s not a new thing,” he added.

Christian Englander, who calls himself a joker, puts a banana in his pocket during a meeting with a reporter Wednesday. He was arrested Monday night after throwing a banana peel at African-American comedian Dave Chappelle during Chappelle’s performance in Santa Fe. (Andy Stiny/Albuquerque Journal)

Christian Englander, who calls himself a joker, puts a banana in his pocket during a meeting with a reporter Wednesday. He was arrested Monday night after throwing a banana peel at African-American comedian Dave Chappelle during Chappelle’s performance in Santa Fe. (Andy Stiny/Albuquerque Journal)

Englander said he was protesting what he felt was Chappelle’s vocal “bullying” of his artist friend known as Johnny Appleseed, whom he described as “sensitive.”

The police report says Chappelle began joking about the Johnny Appleseed name after the comic first had asked to see drawings that Appleseed was making during the show.

Englander said Chappelle had mentioned bananas twice during the performance and that “triggered my memory – I am sitting on a banana peel in my back pocket.”

Mayor Javier Gonzales has condemned Englander’s actions and has said he wants him prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But Englander said he could have pressed charges against Chappelle’s body guard “for assaulting me” while he was being apprehended by the Lensic’s security personnel.

Chappelle is “someone I have great respect for,” said Englander. “I’m just starting to understand how it (the peel toss) was construed as racist,” he said.

Englander said he once threw a tomato during a comedy show in Berkeley. “And nobody threw me out,” he said.

Asked if he would throw a banana peel again under similar circumstances he said, “Of course, a banana peel, an orange peel, a rotten tomato. That’s part of heckling.”

Englander said he thought Chappelle became fixated on the perceived racial overtones of Englander’s actions and acknowledged that his own devil-may-care attitude “maybe made matters worse with Chappelle when he came to interrogate me.”

“He didn’t understand the humor in the joke and he was stuck on the racial divide,” said Englander.

“His eyes started bulging out and he started cursing profanities.”

When a Journal reporter met Englander at his home Wednesday, there was banana peel on the sidewalk and a bag of bananas hanging from the door.

Racism needs to be addressed in our country, Englander said. “That’s sad that our country is dealing with that, but it’s something we do need to deal with and address, and I think it’s important that we not just look at African-Americans as black people.”

He thinks Chappelle over-reacted. “Usually the king doesn’t behead the jester.”

AlertMe

Advertisement

TOP |