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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dave Chappelle's two new specials

There were a few newspaper articles which came out two days ago about one of Dave Chappelle's new Netflix specials, The Bird Revelation. All of them focused on a brief part of his 45 minutes standup session, his take on the Louis C.K. scandal.

Here are the relevant excerpts from the article:

Dave Chappelle tackles Hollywood’s sexual harassment allegations in his new Netflix stand-up — taking aim at one of the five women who accused Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct...

Chappelle, 44, went on to address C.K.’s incident with writer Abby Schachner, with whom he masturbated while on the phone. She told the New York Times that it was “one of the things that discouraged her from pursuing comedy.”

“One lady said, ‘Louis C.K. masturbated in front of me, ruined my comedy dreams,'” he said of
Schachner. “Word? Well then I dare say, madam, you may have never had a dream. Come on man, that’s a brittle spirit. That is a brittle-ass spirit, that is too much, this grown-ass woman.”

He continued, joking that Martin Luther King probably wouldn’t have given up his “dream” if Louis C.K. masturbated in front of him.

“Show business is just harder than that,” Chappelle said, bringing up Schachner again. “Them women sound…they sound weak. I know that sounds f–ked up, I’m not supposed to say that, but one of these ladies was like, ‘Louis C.K. was masturbating while I was on the phone with him.’ B-tch, you don’t know how to hang up a phone? How the f–k are you going to survive in show business if this is an actual obstacle to your dreams?”

This is Chappelle at his best: brutally honest and funny, while pointing out the silliness of certain sensibilities.

I watched both specials. The first, Equanimity, started out great, but ended up with a less-than-funny, preachy speech about Emmett Till.

The second, The Bird Revelation, is where he made the Louis C.K. comments. It was a good show, though those comments may have been the highlight. And once again, Chappelle went on at length about how hard blacks have had it in this country, as if we haven't all heard the entire litany hundreds of times before: the Atlantic crossing, slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. 

Chappelle, like many blacks, talks about all this as if he himself had experienced it. (Note how often the proverbial "we" is used when describing this history.) But Chappelle was born in 1973, the dawn of the affirmative action era, an era during which whites were mostly afraid of blacks, not the other way around. Most of the whites he's known have undoubtedly tiptoed around him, deathly afraid that they might somehow appear racist. 

Blacks now so desperately want to be offended, to find some evidence of racism, that they have been reduced to searching for "microaggressions" in order to explain how they've been "held back."

Talk about a brittle-ass spirit. 

Left unmentioned by Chappelle are what life was actually like back in Africa, IQ differences, crime rates, etc. But those don't fit into The Narrative, so they must be ignored.

Another thing I wish he'd address is his own steroid use. You'd think a guy who's honest about his own masturbation habits might mention the elephant (-sized muscles) in the room. Given his talent, he could probably get some great material out of that.

In all fairness to Chappelle, there's a lot of pressure on black comedians to be loyal to their community. Chris Rock originally made his name by making fun of black people. (Remember his line, "The best place to hide money from a n****r is in a book"?) But then Rock came under a lot of criticism by blacks for being a Tom, so he changed his act; and not entirely coincidentally, he stopped being as funny.

Chappelle has undergone these same pressures (which he obliquely refers to in his act). So now he talks about Emmett Till, and so on. And, again not entirely coincidentally, he's not all that funny when he does so.

But overall, both Chappelle specials are worth watching, and when he's funny, he's great. You just have to get past the occasional preachiness.

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