If You Were Offended By Dave Chappelle’s Latest Standup Special, You Missed The Point
Over the last week, it’s incredibly likely you’ve seen the media frenzy over legendary comedian Dave Chappelle’s latest standup special, The Closer, exclusively streaming on Netflix. Screams and lit torches came for Chappelle once again due to the content within his act. However, this time Chappelle was ready for the mob to attack – and boy, did they – despite him actually telling them he was welcoming them with open arms. For those of us who actually watched the special and didn’t fake outrage from a headline, Chappelle’s special was particularly hilarious – especially since he focused on his love-him-hate-him relationship with the LGBTQ (or as he jokes, the Alphabet) community.
Highlights of Chappelle’s latest and arguably best standup special include his very realistic take cancel culture. He breezes over how Rapper, Jonathan Kirk AKA DaBaby, was recently canceled for his ignorant and public comments toward the gay community. Chappelle points out that DaBaby was canceled for those comments… but not for shooting and killing a man in Walmart. His audience, producers, and seemingly society gave DaBaby a thumbs up to headline music festivals despite having dismissed charges of a fatal shooting… but not for insulting gay men. Chappelle lays it out for us in his special: You can shoot and kill a black man in a department store, but don’t you dare say anything that can be deemed inappropriate about the gay community. Chappelle goes on to say how lucky the LGBTQ community is because of how far they have come with equality. He puns that perhaps African Americans should’ve held Pride Parades covered in body oil and wearing booty shorts to get some global attention for their fight for justice. And Chappelle is no stranger to our community. When he accepted the Mark Twain American Humor Award in January 2020, he jokingly he claimed to one of us and was coming out of the closet. Perhaps he knew we would be the loudest voices in driving attention to his projects and that’s why, as a whole, we watch, talk about, and essentially promote the heck out of his work.
In recent years, one of Chappelle’s attempted cancelations was regarding his previous and record-breaking Netflix special, Sticks & Stones. There, he joked about the LGBTQ communities’ individual letters (groups) hating one another: The gays don’t like the lesbians who don’t like bisexuals and no one of those groups like transgendered folks. It’s told with pizazz and sarcasm that anyone with a sense of humor could laugh at. However, various LGBTQ media didn’t treat him kindly and there’s been a vendetta against him ever since. Which is why he brings up his fight against the transgender community, who he admits hate him, in The Closer.
Chappelle touches on how divisive the LGBTQ community has become. He notes that Harry Potter author, JK Rowling, was canceled over stating her opinion that “gender is a fact.” He agrees with her and openly states gender IS a fact – which has been a running headline in quotations on CNN for days now. Comically, he states he is also in good company with Rowling as he believes he’s a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) – a name he alleged the transgender community made up.
The comedian is not worried about the recent attacks coming for him, claiming that he loves it. Performing at The Hollywood Bowl last week to a sold-out crowd of 18,000+ and among friends like Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, Jon Hamm, Lizzo, he proclaimed to be a badass and screamed “F*** Twitter”, which led to the crowd roaring and cheering him on. Those who watched his special understood he was coming from a place of hilarity and love. Toward the end of The Closer, he tells a heartfelt story of his friend, the late Daphne Dorman. Dorman was a transgender woman and aspiring comedian who Chappelle took under his wing by offering her to perform as an opening act for his shows – and he intended on working with her more often after being impressed by her talent. During Chappelle’s Sticks & Stones cancelation in 2019, Dorman stood up for him claiming that he doesn’t punch down, he punches lines. Dorman was met by the Twitter and cancel culture mob we have all become too familiar with over the years. Dorman, however, as Chappelle tells us emotionally: Committed suicide by jumping off of her apartment building six days after being “canceled” alongside him, leaving behind a daughter. Chappelle, amid his current cancelation attempt, has been backed by Dorman’s living relatives as an ally and friend.
Over the last week, you’ve probably seen the severe backlash Chappelle has received from LGBTQ organizations including GLAAD and most specifically, the loudest voice of all has been Dear White People showrunner, Jaclyn Moore. Moore has publicly identified as a transgender woman since December 2020. Moore has tried leading a charge for the masses to boycott Netflix. However, this concentrated public outrage doesn’t appear to be popular with social media, either. On countless social media platforms, Chappelle has been praised for his satire, sarcasm, and making viewers see a different picture than a headline creates. His special was thoughtful, hysterical, and did its best to make you step out of your self and your opinions and see cancel culture on a greater scale. Netflix’s Chief Executive Officer, Ted Sarandos, agrees with the masses and not a small minority with their digital pitchforks, as he’s proclaimed Netflix will not take down the comedy special. Yesterday, Netflix suspended three employees, including outspoken transgender activist and employee, Terra Field, for barging into a meeting they were not supposed to be in as they tried to cancel the special in person. It seems those may be fighting back against cancel culture in places where it is not necessary or needed. And perhaps that is a change many of us have been wanting to see.
Chappelle claims kindness is the conspiracy, and we are all too divided without listening to one another. He promised to not include any more LGBTQ jokes in his stand up until we’re on the same page and united in laughter. He ended his potentially final Netflix special dedicating the laughs to Dorman and played what has been called the LGBTQ anthem, I Will Survive, by Gloria Gaynor.
For those who listened to his latest special The Closer, was it a chance to laugh at ourselves and laugh with him? Or did you find it problematic?
Writer’s Note A: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.