Opinion: Dave, We’re Laughing With You

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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.

Source: Charlotte Observer, Fox News, Deadline, Variety, Variety

12 thoughts on “Opinion: Dave, We’re Laughing With You”

  1. Reading the comments and wow many of you guys are missing the point, not trans people and their allies. First comedy is subjective. Some bits or comedians are funny to others and some are not. I hold no ill will if someone doesn’t like Adam Sandler or Amy Schumer. Second it’s not most of our place to tell or ask why minorities group that Dave Chappelle made fun of didn’t speak out when we are not of those communities. And it’s not your place to tell someone that a joke is not offensive if a joke doesn’t offend you. Trans people were offended with his current jokes about trans people and queer people so that’s what needs to be discussed. Chappelle sided with TERFS which is a hate group that hopes to remove trans people mostly trans women out of the public either by making their existence invalid or restricting their basic rights. That is something he left out of the comedic “discussion.”

    So when he said he’s a TERF he aligned himself with a hate group that sought to dehumanize a minority group- in comparison many white people sided with the KKK to dehumanize black Americans. He made it blacks vs the LGBTQ community solely because trans or gay people are finally getting headlines for basic human rights and fighting against anti trans laws all over the south (TX & AL). He wants compensation for the black community and basically said the LGBTQ community are in the way for black success. He did have a point that queer people can be racist but he also made the assumption that there are only white queer people. He excluded black queer people. Many people who has a problem with this bit came from queer black Netflix employees and LGBTQ black folks. He also did this to clear his own name from his past anti queer jokes. He wanted to levitate his name brand by saying he’s a queer ally but contradicting himself by saying queer people are in the way and said he’s a TERF.

    Clearly his past anti queer jokes bugged him enough to bring it up. Having a one man comedy discussion in a room with an audience who probably doesn’t have the information on TERFS or what’s going on with anti trans laws is not the place to do it. It’s a place for people to make him feel validated for whatever opinion he has and not to debate. If he really wants solidarity with the LGBTQ community he should’ve had a Netflix special with queer people specifically black/ brown trans and queer folks.

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  2. I stand with Hannah Gadsby and Chapelle and Netflix are in the wrong. This author (and many others) are the ones that missed the point. Yes comedy is often “making fun of others” but as Hannah said, the line was crossed and he has actual hatred for trans persons and espouses and encourages violence.

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  3. The only thing I will say is that trans rights/equality are the newest and most fragile… I mean these people still are fighting for basic human rights in many states… people keep saying “if you are offended your missing the point”, but perhaps “if you can’t see why they are offended it’s YOU who is missing the point”. I appreciate his story about his trans friend, it’s shows a deep love for this person, however this is the modern equivalent of telling a racist joke & saying “some of my closest friends are black”.

    I don’t think it’s mean spirited, it feels more blindly confident that he knows a communities boundaries that he is not a part of.

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  4. You got it right. Those in an uproar are proving Dave’s entire point of the special – LGBTQ attacks without thought or context, at any mention of their issues in any light, comedic or otherwise.
    They also could not have watched the special from start to finish, or they would understand he is entirely on their side.
    Dave said it best, previously – “Now, gay people, I know you’re excited, but slow your roll. My people were promised the same in 1964, and we’re still waiting.”
    My daughter gets this. She is part of that community. She laughed and said, “true” over and over, watching this.
    Dave is a creature of love.
    Oh, and… How does one not get the reference in the title of, “Sticks and Stones”? Words will never hurt me.
    Peace.

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  5. I watched the special it wasn’t mean-spirited or heavy handed. Listening objectively you hear his disdain for oppression of people and their oppressors no matter their affiliation.

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  6. He made fun of Jews, Asians, Trans, Black, White, Complainers, himself. And lets see who feelings get hurt the most? Shocking, what he said about the trans movement and the black movement was the hammer hitting the nail. Give this man the Mark Twain award for comedy…………. err how about the George Carlin award for spitting facts. One thing about George and Dave is everything they have and will say will come to fruition.

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  7. His humour has always been about making fun of people – all people. i.e. Where’s the outrage for his Jews in Space joke?

    I thought the special (and his last) were hysterical. It’s called comedy and he does it well. And him not telling these JOKES is not going to solve the struggles trans have.

    And I am an unconditional supporter of trans people.

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  8. It was a really good show and indeed, if you are insulted you totally missing the point. The only group who always wants to cancel is the ‘alphabet’ people, and like Dave said in an earlier special. They should have a kind of sense of humor about it. Being born in the wrong body, objectively speaking it could be something funny.

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    • I watched the special it wasn’t mean-spirited or heavy handed. Listening objectively you hear his disdain for oppression of people and their oppressors no matter their affiliation.

      Reply

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