Dave Chappelle may have once run from the spotlight, but in his two new Netflix comedy specials released on New Year’s Eve, he is diving right back into the fray.
In Equanimity, Chappelle tells the audience about a letter he received from a fan who was disappointed in his thoughtlessness when it comes to transgender issues.
The comic makes clear “as a policy” he never feels bad about what he says onstage but says that letter actually got to him:
“When I read that letter, in the moments after I read it, I did something that many black men in America do not have the time or the money to do. I thought about how I felt.”
He said he had to face whether he actually had a problem with transgender people, and after some soul searching decided, “Absolutely not.” He concluded:
“I don’t understand all the choices people make. But I do understand that life is hard, and that those types of choices do not disqualify you from a life with dignity and happiness and safety.”
Good! Of course, he also says while he supports the transgender community he still finds their situation “kind of fuckin’ hilarious” and proceeds to do some of his material that offended the fan, including the bit saying “Yuck” about Caitlyn posing nude.
That sentiment could be described in the beginning of the second special, The Bird Revelation, in which he opens up:
“Sometimes, the funniest thing to say is mean. You guys gotta remember, I’m not saying it to be mean. I’m saying it because it’s funny. And everything’s funny until it happens to you.”
Something he finds the funny in? The deluge of recent sexual harassment and assault scandals brought on by the #MeToo movement.
He makes fun of the way Harvey Weinstein looks (“the first person that I’ve ever looked at a photograph of and said, ├óΓé¼╦£Yeah, he rapes'”) and the shock that boring, wholesome Charlie Rose was apparently a predator (“Who’s next, Captain Kangaroo?”).
But it’s the accusations against fellow comic Louis C.K. that hit close to home. First off, he says people ask him constantly if he knew, to which he responds:
“No, bitch, I did not know. What the fuck do you think we talk about at the comedy club?”
That is fair. But where he goes next is shaky ground, as he makes light of the Louis accusations, saying while he was wrong, the accusations did make him laugh:
“It’s terrible, I know it’s terrible. Ladies, you are right. But at the same time, Jesus Christ, they took everything from Louis. I think it might be disproportionate. I can’t tell. This is where it’s hard to be man.”
At least he says he doesn’t know. Which is a good place for all men to start in this conversation.
The edgiest statement is his response to an accuser who said her experience with Louis drove her to quit comedy:
“One lady said, ├óΓé¼╦£Louis C.K. masturbated in front of me, ruined my comedy dreams.’ Word? Well then I dare say, madam, you may have never had a dream. C’mon man, that’s a brittle spirit. That is a brittle-ass spirit, that is too much, this grown-ass woman.”
Whoa! He continues:
“You think if Louis C.K. jerked off in front of Dr. King, he’d be like, ├óΓé¼╦£I can’t continue this movement? I’m sorry, but the freedom of black people must be stopped. I didn’t know this n**** was going to pull his dick out and jerk off like this. I thought we were going to get a couple of drinks and chill.’ Show business is just harder than that ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ them women sounded like, I hate to say it, they sounded weak. I know it sounds fucked up and I’m not supposed to say that, but one of these ladies was like, ├óΓé¼╦£Louis C.K. was masturbating while I was on the phone with him.’ Bitch, you don’t know how to hang up the phone? How the hell are you going to survive in show business if this is an actual obstacle to your dreams?”
In the end, Dave makes it clear he is very much on the side of women here. After all, he has a daughter, and the world will only be safer for her if women “win this fight”:
“If you win, she wins, and I’m rooting for you.”
BTW, Dave also says he is not at all scared of accusations being hurled his way.
Except, obviously, accusations of being controversial.
Did YOU watch Chappelle’s specials? Let us know what you think in the comments (below)!