Three posts ago I defended Kathy Griffin and her right to make offensive images, especially in the service of comedy. But after the strong reaction against the photo of her holding up a bloody replica of Donald Trump's head, Griffin herself seemed to lose her sense of humor.
Yesterday she held a self-pitying press conference in which she tearfully accused Trump of being a "bully," and said he was out to ruin her life. (He put out exactly one Tweet in which he said she should be ashamed of herself and that his son Barron was having a hard time dealing with the image.)
Which is worse, the photo or the responding Tweet?
I still think Griffin is a funny comedienne, but at this point it's hard to have any respect for her.
Two months ago I wrote a positive review of Dave Chapelle's Netflix special. I said that I had half-expected that his having gone on steroids would cause him to lose his sense of humor, but it hadn't.
Last night I watched Part II of the special. It wasn't quite as funny. Worse, I heard the steroids talking throughout. At one point Chapelle said that he had knocked on the window of a car containing four white boys, one of whom had thrown a snowball at him, because he wanted to "fuck them up."
On another occasion, he said that there was only one parent at his son's private school he might not be able to take in a fight (a certain lesbian). And throughout the show he talked like a guy who thought about nothing but sex (a common side effect of steroids).
Chapelle is now a hulking presence, but the pre-steroids Chapelle -- who must have weighed roughly 135 -- would never have talked this way. Hearing him trying to sound like a badass with his new store-bought muscles was a little off-putting.
One of the themes of his show was how hard it is to be black. Chapelle had a couple of legitimate complaints -- in one, a member of the audience in Santa Fe had thrown a banana peel at him. (That actually happened, I looked it up later.) And, one of the boys in that car had called him the n-word.
The fact that Chapelle could make comedy out of this material, and not even sound angry while speaking about the incidents, is admirable. But I feel as if I hear enough about how hard it is to be black; it's hardly breaking fresh comedic (or political) ground. And some of the stuff he alluded to, including his unquestioning acceptance of the myth that the police are out to kill black people, was tiresome.
I preferred his politically incorrect analysis about the inherent awkwardness and difficulty of trying to address everybody by the right pronoun in our newly gender-fluid society.
Chapelle's great strength has always been his ability to be the voice of sanity while describing crazy situations. But he's starting to sound as if the steroids are pushing him in the other direction.
I still think Chapelle is a great comedian. I'm just a little bit less of a fan than before.