Friday, March 24, 2017

Dave Chappelle's New Netflix Specials Aren't Really My Thing, but I Didn't Necessarily Have a Bad Time

I’m not really a fan of Dave Chappelle.  But I was intrigued to watch his pair of newly released stand-up specials in Netflix because he made some LGBTQ and “rape culture” jokes that triggered whiny, rabid, politically correct social justice warriors.  So I watched it, and the outrage is bewilderingly absurd as usual.  Chappelle has always made raunchy jokes, and has always been critical of different kinds of people, so what do you expect?  This is what these stand-up comedians do.  Besides, other liberal comedians have regularly trashed Christians and conservatives and whites, and the LGBTQ jokes that Chappelle made is nowhere as hateful as those.  In fact, they weren’t really “attacks” per se.  Rather, they were actually sensible observations and points about the LGBTQ worldview.

As for the “rape culture” jokes, well, it’s basically his bit on Bill Cosby.  But he never glorified rape at any point.  He never rationalized what Bill Cosby did.  He did point out some of the good that Cosby had done in his life and career, as well as serving an inspiration to him, being a stand-up comedian and all.  But he never at all made what good Cosby had done as an “offset” for the evil he did.

Of course, the two specials – Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin – are packed with crass jokes.  In fact, there are other jokes that are probably more inappropriate than those LGBTQ and Bill Cosby jokes that some found “offensive.”  They are funny, I guess.  But the vulgar extents that Chapelle is willing to reach for are not quite my kind of thing.  I personally prefer the kind of stand-up comedy from the likes of Tim Hawkins (my most favorite; the best of the lot) and Jeff Dunham.
However, it’s possible to watch this “edgier” kind of stand-ups from the likes of Chapelle with discerning and mature viewpoint.  To determine if a joke is accurately being “hateful.”  To separate truthful insights from different layers of crudeness.  And to simply appreciate cleverness and humor in general.

To be fair, it’s not as if Chapelle is telling crass and offensive jokes just for the sake of being crass and offensive (like what Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman are known for.  Ugh.) – the kind of “comedy” I’m most annoyed of.  You can tell there’s still a sense of purposefulness behind these jokes.

All in all, I really didn’t have a “had me in stitches” moment with Deep in the Heart of Texas and The Age of Spin.  Non-Chapelle fans or those unfamiliar with his style might even find a few jokes that fall flat.  Also, they were respectively recorded in 2015 and 2016, so some of the material won’t “connect” in a timely sense.  Nonetheless, Chapelle does have some thoughtful commentaries, brilliant punchlines, well-told anecdotes, and masterful structuring and buildup in them.  I might not have completely enjoyed these specials, but I didn’t have a bad time with them either.

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