When it comes to comedian Dave Chappelle, there’s very little that has ever been off-limits in either his stand-up or his sketches. In 2019 however, the criteria for what actually makes a joke funny have passed even the greats up.
Chappelle spoke about a lot in his hour and a half long special, with topics such as the Jussie Smollett incident and his own satirical views on the LGBTQ+ community, among other things.
The issue in question is Chappelle’s apparently blatant disregard for any kind of political correctness in the most politically correct time period we’ve seen in decades. For Chappelle however, even he himself lamented on how one dimensional the so called “cancel culture” is.
Chappelle began this part of his routine by bringing up the letters of the alphabet when speaking about members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I have friends of all letters. Everybody loves me, and I love everybody,” began Chappelle, “but for some reason the T’s hate my guts.” said Chappelle in reference to his viewed perception to the LGBTQ+ community.
In this part of the special, Chappelle reminisces on a transexual woman that he came across at one of his comedy shows, who he explains to the audience loved his standup.
“I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t say these jokes,” said Chappelle as he recalls meeting a transgender woman named Daphne at a recent comedy show.
According to Chappelle, she seemed to be having a great time up to the point where he was about to begin his “trans jokes”, as he so eloquently regarded them.
“If I can’t say these jokes in front of her, then should I even say them at all?,” pondered Chappelle. “So I let it rip,” said the comedian to the audiences hysterics.
After the show, Chappelle recalls sharing a drink with the young woman, wondering to himself how she could respond so well to his jokes when others responded so negatively. Chappelle proceeded to mischievously smirk at the crowd as he snapped his fingers and proclaimed, “It’s because Daphne used to be a man”, as the crowd laughed.
It was jokes such as these that were filled with the slightest bit of introspection before the unorthodox punchlines that have made Chappelle one of the all-time comedy greats conflicted the masses. Chappelle jokes that he may or may not have “made out” with the woman after the fact.
It drove the point home that while Chappelle wasn’t without empathy or understanding of the issues that plague the people, when he’s up on stage having to make people with dark senses of humor laugh, he could care less about what’s safe. At the end of the day, playing it safe has never the legacy of a great one.
The argument is that something is always funny when the joke isn’t on you and you’re out of touch enough to find humor in it. To that point, it’s fair to say that as black people in America, we should know better than to laugh at the expense of the oppressed.
But at the same time, we live in a world where we can’t take anything serious unless it offends our own specific beliefs, and so, who are we to dictate a middle ground or moral compass for someone whose job it is to be politically incorrect?
For many people, the ability of a comedian to be able to say the politically incorrect in front of crowds of thousands in hopes of sharing a laugh isn’t what’s truly detrimental to the plight of the oppressed, so why hold them accountable for the actions of the societies worst?
If it’s a question of whether or not the outrage from this latest special will end Chappelle’s run a comedy great, then the answer is likely “No” according to fans of the comedian.
“Not at all, there’s no reason for him to be canceled. He made fun of every single social group there is and at the end of the day, we have to realize and it’s his job to be politically incorrect as a comedian.” said Charles Barjon, a sophomore history major from California when asked if he thought Chappelle should be cancelled.
Regardless of which side of the discussion you may fall on, the reality of the United States leadership outlawing abortions throughout the entirety of the deep South and banning transgenders from serving in the army should be the focus of the mass’ ire, not an individual whose only goal is to make people laugh.