It was a jarring sight. Kanye West was laughing.
Basically everyone with an Internet connection knows why this would seem strange, but here is a quick recap for anyone who has been asleep for the past 60 days: West has spent the past few months alienating his fan base with Twitter rants about the alt-right and Donald Trump (that were part of a philosophy book that was not actually a book) and real-life rants at TMZ about his twisted idea that slavery was a choice.
He has also released three records: a great one by Pusha T that he solely produced, a mediocre one billed exclusively to his name and a very good collaboration with Kid Cudi. The latter dropped this weekend, and though it sounds much more realized than “Ye,” it remains a dark exploration of a cracked psyche. This sure ain’t party music.
So it was as refreshing as it was strange to see a happy Kanye along with his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and three of his cousins appear on “Celebrity Family Feud,” playing against the Kardasians themselves — including Khloe, Kendall and their mother, Kris Jenner.
This was “College Dropout” Kanye, not “Yeezus” Kanye. But while it might appear the rapper is back to his fun-loving self, it is important to note this episode was filmed in February — long before Kanye took to Twitter. So, in some ways, the episode felt like a time capsule of a happier — or certainly simpler — time.
Here are a few takeaways:
Kanye loves Kim, but he really loves “Family Feud.”
During the opening introductions, Kanye could not stop smiling. Rest assured he remained this way for the rest of the episode, his pearly whites blinding the cameras (a discordant sight if you had to pause one of his dark, new records to watch the episode). One of his biggest smiles came early: when he sheepishly introduced “my beautiful wife, Kim Kardashian West.”
But it is Kim who first truly exposed their adoration for the show, telling host Steve Harvey, “That’s all we do, every single night. We just watch ‘Family Feud.’ ”
“Gotta have the ‘Feud!’ ” Kanye shouted behind her.
When they finally reached Fast Money, the final segment of the night, Kanye’s excitement had bubbled over. Harvey remarked, “It’s always been Yeezy’s dream to play Fast Money,” while Kim claimed, “I practice this in my bedroom every single night.”
Kanye knows why Steve Harvey is a good kisser. (Also, he is phenomenal at this game.)
For the first question of the night, Kanye faced his mother-in-law Kris Jenner. And, boy, was he ready. If only he had brought this much passion to “Ye.”
The two squared off with their hands hovering over the buzzers as Harvey got things started.
“I wanna apologize for this first question, dawg,” Harvey said. “I have nothing to do with the questions. … We asked 100 women: ‘Name a reason why you think Steve Harvey’s a good kisser.’ ”
Kanye did not even hesitate. Lightning-fast, his hand shot down to the buzzer.
“Lips!” he shouted, that grin spreading out again. “I’m here to win, bro! I’m here to win!”
After Harvey assured Kanye he was right, the rapper took a victory lap around the studio and admitted, “I was so nervous.”
Kendall took a shot at Trump — and Kanye seemed cool with it.
One of the more shocking things Kanye said during the past few months is he admires Trump, with whom he shares “dragon energy.”
So it was a bit jolting to hear Kendall say the last person she’d want to see at a party where everyone was naked was “Donald Trump” without Kanye turning it into a PR nightmare for himself.
But maybe he was just too happy to care, because …
Seriously, though, that smile.
It is honestly difficult to overstate just how happy Kanye was throughout this entire show. He was 6-year-old-goes-to-ice-cream-shop happy. He was seeing-your-favorite-band-and-they-dedicate-a-song-to-you happy. He was the Caps-winning-the-Stanley-Cup happy. And you do not have to take our word for it.
“Kanye was having the time of his life on Family Feud!” tweeted Perez Hilton. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile so much!!”
“I know the Tonys are on but I’m watching the Kardashians vs the West family on family feud and Kanye West is acting like he’s on TV for the first time in his life,” tweeted one user.
Others simply expressed hope that they could one day be as happy as Kanye on the show.
“Kanye was the best Family Feud celebrity panelist we’ve ever had on the show. He loves the show,” Harvey later told Ellen DeGeneres. “His people said, ‘Steve, this is the most Kanye has ever smiled since we’ve been working for him.’ Kanye smiled!”
Even Kim chimed in, saying, “Kanye has a permanent smile on his face during this whole Family Feud episode.”
Kim is terrible at this game.
There is not much more to say about that. (Even Harvey agrees.)