Dave Chappelle rose to prominence in the early 2000s on the back of his landmark sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show, lampooning society on every topic from celebrity worship to race. Bad reviews of the series were hard to come by when it aired, but they are a bit more abundant for his comeback comedy specials on Netflix.
In fact, one left-wing columnist writing for Vice trashed Dave Chappelle in a recent op-ed that has since gone viral titled, “Dave Chappelle’s New Standup Is Offensive in All the Wrong Ways.”
The writer of the piece — comedian Patrick Marlborough — begins by laying out how he is a Dave Chappelle fan from way back, but the new special just didn’t measure up.
“The jokes were mean and lazy. They were something I never thought I’d see: Dave Chappelle punching down,” Marlborough said, attacking the comedian for jokes about trans and queer people.
“Even when Chappelle started in on his trans and queerphobic jokes in the new specials, I found myself doing mental gymnastics,” Marlborough wrote, adding that when the twist never arrived, “the comedy nerd in me ran a macro-history of the complicated intersectionality of queer identities and black standup — from the blatant homophobia of Eddie Murphy and (early) Chris Rock, to the complex performative bisexuality of Richard Pryor.”
Marlborough attacks Dave Chappelle in the piece for dropping the word “tranny,” calling the usage “as awkwardly dated as Murphy screeching ‘f***ot’ in 1987.”
“A throwaway line about a ‘tranny’s’ d**k popping out had my eyes rolling. The line about trans people ‘tricking’ men into sleeping with them made me deeply upset and confused. Again, I was waiting for the ‘f**k you n***a, I have kids to feed’ moment from his earlier ghetto bit. It never came.”
To get at the heart of all Marlborough’s criticisms, it is important to read through the 2,000-plus word piece, which is largely praising of Dave Chappelle as a comedian. In fact, Marlborough himself admits to laughing several times throughout the special but being ultimately disappointed by how Chappelle handles the politics of 2017.
BET was another outlet to take aim at the act, highlighting two specifically “offensive” sections, noting that one “offensive joke” involved a gay man telling him the use of “husband” and “wife” needed to be removed from marriage licenses now that same-sex marriage is legal.
“N***a please, save me the semantics… Take your chips out of the casino, you’re about to crap out. Go outside, talk it over amongst yourselves and whichever one of you is gayer, that’s the wife,” Chappelle joked.
In another section that offended the website, Dave said black men had it worse than trans women when it came to being targets for discrimination, remarking “Black dudes in Brooklyn, hard, street motherf**kers, are wearing high heels just to feel safe.”
“DAVE CHAPPELLE IS A HOMOPHOBIC MISOGYNISTIC RACIST…..” pic.twitter.com/a8HHTJzvva
— Gold Leader (@Immaculate__ICE) March 22, 2017
For now, Marlborough and others — such as the Twitter user above — appear to be in the minority with his reaction to the new Dave Chappelle comedy specials. With 289 reviews posted to Netflix at the time of this piece, the two hours of comedy is averaging 5 out of 5 Stars.
The fact there are reactions like Marlborough’s may not be surprising to anyone following the present comedic landscape.
With Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Larry the Cable Guy, Louis C.K., and others all refusing to play college campuses because of the perception that “P.C. culture” has run amok, Chappelle’s new specials did not have to veer too far from the Chappelle’s Show days to ruffle feathers.
Previous comedy skits of the comedian included Clayton Bigsby, the blind black white supremacist; a parody black-and-white “television classic” about a family of white people named after a racial slur; and a skit in which muppet-like characters teach children about sexually transmitted diseases and drug abuse.
Me watching Dave Chappelle make homophobic and transphobic jokes to cover up his dated set. pic.twitter.com/nJBnHX13uU
— Isaiah T. Taylor (@Bboy_Izilla) March 22, 2017
What do you think, readers? Are the criticisms of these new specials fair or an example of out-of-control PC? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Netflix]