Dave Chappelle's '8:46' was YouTube's top trending video of 2020

Screenshot via YouTube

YouTube announced the year’s top trending videos, and it’s a roundup that reflects the chaos of 2020, dominated by content shaped by the pandemic, the election, and civil unrest. Topping the list is Dave Chappelle’s 8:46, the impromptu 27-minute standup set he performed 12 days after the death of George Floyd. Its title refers to how long Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck on May 25.

Netflix released the special on its YouTube channel “Netflix Is A Joke” on June 12 and described it as “an impromptu purging of feelings and thoughts” from the comedian. 8:46 has been viewed 29 million times since, and Chappelle was praised for his honest ruminations on racism in America. At one point, the comedian acknowledged the heaviness of his subject matter by noting, "This isn't funny at all."

But Chappelle's serious performance clearly struck a chord with people. “More than anything else, it sets the tone for how there was this thing that was happening in culture and in the world, and how people created content that reflected this moment that was happening. Viewers swarmed to it,” an analyst from YouTube, Earnest Pettie, told The Verge.

Similarly, the second top trending video of the year is the cold open from Saturday Night Live’s season premiere, which introduced Jim Carrey as Joe Biden. The pandemic influenced what people watched, too. John Krasinski’s quarantine creation Some Good News made YouTube’s list, as did creator Dude Perfect’s Quarantine Stereotypes video. Well-known YouTube celebrities like Jeffree Star and NikkieTutorials rounded out the top videos.

"In the U.S., this year's top trending videos show how creators quickly adapted to the unforeseen challenges of 2020 while also addressing the unique, personal needs of their communities," YouTube wrote in a statement.