Is Dave Chappelle's comedy just offensive and unfunny now? | The Tylt
Is Dave Chappelle's comedy just offensive and unfunny now?
Comedians like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy inspired Chappelle with their raw, vulgar and bold styles.
Chappelle brings that fire to his comedy. Whether or not they agree with it—defenders and detractors might argue Chappelle was in classic form with "Age of Spin: Live at the Hollywood Palladium" and "Deep In The Heart Of Texas: Live At Austin City Limits."
Some argue it's outrageous, but Chappelle is just saying what's on folks minds, right? Sure, critics might disagree whether or not his jokes are within taste, but his fans seem to get it. But the marginalized groups he goes after don't always look at it that way—they say he's offensive and takes cheap, tasteless shots at people.
First, the good news. Chappelle is still at the top of his class, wholly at ease onstage and mischievous as ever. His winding stories have the same unscripted, manic feel as his classic material, perfectly crafted without seeming crafted at all.
And then there’s the joke he tells in 'Deep in the Heart of Texas' about the sheer injustice of having to respect another person’s gender identity. It’s just one joke in two hourlong specials, yes, yet it casts a dark cloud over the rest. Chappelle’s reputation rests heavily on the notion that he’s smarter and funnier than anyone else in the game. This… is not smart. It’s ignorant.
Chappelle, who looks older and a little heavier, began the first session by describing how he’d recently been booed on-stage by fans who began chanting for a refund that was not coming. “I’m like Evel Knievel,” he responded. “I get paid for the attempt!” Now in his 40s, it seemed clear that this was a man with very few, if any, comedic fucks to give. He was more raw than I remember, and perhaps this appealed to my immature side, which is always hungry for laughter. Perhaps not coincidentally, I have noticed an increase in my use of profanity and the n-word since watching.
His focus on the horror of political correctness, instead, felt like something you’d expect to come from a megarich 43-year-old man from the outskirts of Ohio. Who, instead of evolving with the world, has remained stagnant and believes the world has gone mad while pining for time when things were simpler. Which is who he is.
A throwaway line about a "tranny's" dick 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 "fuck you nigga, I have kids to feed" moment from "3 AM in the Ghetto." It never came. The jokes were mean, they were lazy. They were something I never thought I'd see: Dave Chappelle punching down.
The genius stand-up comics always make us uncomfortable. George Carlin challenged our personal views, Richard Pryor did the same with the same conversational style Chappelle has, Eddie Murphy did with his vulgar delivery. I believe Chappelle is in that conversation—frankly, he has been for years. He's this generation's most influential and important comic.
Slate's Sam Adams loves that Chappelle is finally enjoying his success. He writes:
The best material in either special is when Chappelle is at his most relaxed. He’s dressed down for Deep in the Heart of Texas, in jeans and a denim shirt, and at one point he bums a cigarette from the audience and leans sideways on a stool as he smokes.