Chappelle, who has stoked controversy in recent years due to frequently making jokes about the trans community, popped up during the goodbye segment on Saturday (27 January).
Though the 50-year-old comic had not appeared in the episode until now, he stood with the cast as host Dakota Johnson closed out the show alongside musical guest Justin Timberlake.
Yang, who has been a cast member on the sketch show since 2019, stood noticeably apart from the crowd on the other side of the stage.
With arms crossed and an unsmiling expression, the Fire Island star, 33, did not seem interested in Chappelle’s sudden inclusion.
At one point, fellow cast member Sarah Sherman walked over to Yang and seemed to engage in a brief conversation. After Yang said something to her, she looked over to the area where Chappelle was standing.
Yang’s distance from the cast, though fleeting, did not go unnoticed with some viewers, some of whom praised him for his quiet response to the situation.
“Bowen Yang is having the correct reaction to being in a room with Dave Chappelle & Justin Timberlake,” one X/Twitter user quipped.
The Independent has reached out to a representative of Bowen Yang for comment.
— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) January 28, 2024
Yang, who is gay, has repeatedly expressed his support for the trans community, namely on his podcast with actor Matt Rogers, Las Culturistas.
Last July, Yang took a brief break from the podcast to address issues with his mental health.
In an announcement on his Instagram story at the time, he said: “Taking a very short break from [Las Culturistas]. Bad bouts of depersonalisation are ****ing me up bad, but I am doing my best to get better! Please take care, be soon.”
In December, Yang shared an update, telling Page Six that his mental health was now “great”.
“I had a really rough patch and people were very patient with me,” he noted. “It’s hard but you know, I barrelled through. I powered through.”
Yang will soon star in the cinematic adaptation of the popular musical Wicked, which also stars Ariana Grande as Glinda the Good Witch, and Cynthia Erivo as the green-skinned hero, Elphaba.
Wicked is in cinemas from 24 November 2024.