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Dave Chappelle Talks About the Backlash Over His New Special: 'If This is What Being Cancelled is, I Love It.'

By now you know that Dave Chappelle released his latest and last stand up special on Netflix this week. The one Pat wrote about the other day. And if you're even a little bit plugged into life in our times, if you've got even a 1994 dial up modem connecting you to the current zeitgeist, you know that means in the special he once again grabs all the third rails of American culture. All the topics few comics dare to go near. Race. Crime. Gender. Identity politics. And as always, whether you agree with him or not, he's provocative, profane, ballsy, and most importantly, funny as hell. Personally I think he's been funnier before. But that's like being in 2006 watching Tiger Woods win two majors and saying you thought he was better in 2000. Even a decent percentage of Peak Chappelle is as good as anybody out there. 

And if you know even a little about how these Chappelle specials work, you know he's getting a REACTION. Both good and bad. It's all part of the cycle of these things. The show currently has a 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. But then what immediately follows is the righteous indignation. 

Chappelle dropping the mic and then immediately spawning outraged Tweets and dozens of sanctimonious news reports about those outraged Tweets:

That piece by NBC News included comments by three people, a couple of whom have as many followers as your average high school sophomore. But it doesn't matter. Public outcry follows a Chappelle special the way a parade follows a championship. It's all part of the process. Whether it's a people with a moderate social media presence or the highly organized political machines:

And that's great. If you feel like you're bearing the brunt of his or any other comic's material, and you're insulted and don't think it's funny, by all means, speak out. The best way to counter someone's free speech you don't like is with free speech of your own. And the beautiful thing about the age we live in is everyone gets to be heard. It's truly a blessing. One we should all cherish because, if history is any guide (and it is), that blessing could be taken away at any moment.

Fortunately for us all, Chappelle just happens to be one of the people with the Fuck You Money and the Fuck Off Clout to not have to worry about it. He's got the cache to stand up and face the criticism. 

Hollywood Reporter - Amid a swirl of controversy around his new Netflix special, The Closer, Dave Chappelle took center stage Thursday night at a star-studded and sold-out show at L.A.’s iconic Hollywood Bowl.  …

He shared the marquee with a screening of Untitled: Dave Chappelle Documentary. …

Some were on the bill tonight including Snoop Dogg, Nas, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Stevie Wonder, Lizzo and Jon Hamm, with the latter cutting a rug together during their outing. Comedian Jeff Ross kicked off the program with a short intro, followed by a screening of the film, which one attendee described as “moving.” Then came Chappelle — dressed in a suit, with his wife and a cigarette on hand — for the main event that saw him being heralded at the mic on numerous occasions as the greatest living comic.

“If this is what being canceled is like, I love it,” the 48-year-old said in response to a standing ovation. The line, and many more like it, was greeted by rapturous applause from the crowd, which included a masked Brad Pitt, Tiffany Haddish, Donnell Rawlings and others. At another point, he was more blunt: “Fuck Twitter. Fuck NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid ass networks. I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you. This is real life.”

Giphy Images.


"Fuck Twitter. Fuck all these stupid ass networks. This is real life." I think I just found my neck tattoo.

That freedom to speak out against the thing that offends you ends when you start objecting to someone "platforming" a popular entertainer whose special we're talking about has a 96% fan rating. Instead of making up words that sound non-threatening, why not just call it what it is. Censorship. Just come right and say you want to shut people down when you don't like their jokes and deny the people who do the chance to laugh. At least when they threw Lenny Bruce in jail San Francisco for using the word "cocksucker" and in Los Angeles for saying "schmuck," they didn't couch their oppression in vague, non-specific language as they slapped the cuffs on him. 

The other best part about the free marketplace of ideas is that it's a meritocracy. If any comic - Dave Chappelle or anyone else - just got up on stage and railed about how he hates LGBT people, they wouldn't last the five minutes you get at an Open Mic Night. Not because they'd be arrested, but because it wouldn't be funny. Which is the one requirement of Chappelle's job. And no one does it better. Yes, he's a provocateur. But one with a point of view and something worthwhile to say and who makes you think while you're laughing. The way the greats do.

And the really pathetic part is that the people who are feigning outrage and decrying their own victimhood clearly haven't watched the special. At least not to the end. I won't give it away, but if you're objecting to this show and demanding it be (another idiotic form of this stupid word) de-platformed, you're just proving your own ignorance. You're no different than the ones trying to ban books they never read or were slapping warning labels on CDs they never listened to back in the 90s. And if you're falling on your fainting couch over Dave Chappelle's "message of hate" in "Closer," you're either drawing a circle around the fact you haven't seen it, or you're setting a new standard for missing the point. And I don't know which is worse.

The bottom line is we need more of the kind of edgy comedy guys like Chappelle provide. Not less. Watch "Closer" and you'll see what I mean. Lighten up, everybody.