In 2016 Dave Chappelle inked a major deal with Netflix to deliver three stand-up comedy specials. At the end of August he is back having released his latest special ‘Sticks & Stones.’ Chappelle is back in his truest form with this stand-up special. One of the funniest parts of the segment was his joke about “Juicy Smooyah” aka Jussie Smollet from ‘Empire’. The special was filmed in Atlanta and is beautifully produced. If Chappelle wanted to piss off entire groups of people and leave the entire audience slightly uncomfortable; he was successful. ‘Sticks & Stones’ is funny but it is also honest. The bluntness of his jokes will create a lot of discussions around kitchen tables, living rooms, and family cookouts. Many of the jokes will cause the black community to be challenged in ways that will make some uncomfortable.
Chappelle did not hold back when it came to the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community. Even though he tried to explain the struggle many of members in the community face; his jokes at times came off as offensive. Which is part of the reason he keep saying “The T’s F**king hate me.” He lacked a basic understanding of the fundaments of the LGBTQIA+ movement. As an example “T” does not stand for Transvestite. Gender identity is a lot bigger than simply someone who dresses in the opposite sex’s clothes.
In today’s age it seems like it would be career suicide for anyone to go against the #Me-Too movement. Leave it up to Dave Chappelle to make fun of rape victims, child molestation victims, and homosexuals all in one joke. He began the joke with “I don’t believe them”. A sentiment that a lot of African Americans hold regarding the latest rape allegations aimed at, the rince of pop, Michael Jackson. He would continue the joke by going on to normalize pedophiles.
How would you feel if I told you that Chappelle was heartless and joked about white people addicted to opioids? How would you feel if I told you that Chappelle pointed out that meth/opioid addiction is no different than when crack cocaine ravage the black community in 80’s and 90’s? It is a lot harder to quickly see how Chappelle brought knowledge and social justice into many of his jokes. Even his jokes defending Kevin Hart’s Oscars debacle and Louis C.K.’s public masturbation scandal; were attempts to present a mirror to the general public’s treatment and expectation of celebrities.
Love him or hate him Dave Chappelle is likely to create a reaction. He is an artist in every sense of the word. He is one of the great comedians of our era. ‘Sticks & Stones’ is likely to cause some controversy but that will also create discussion on difficult topics. We have to consider the role of comedians in our broader society. Yes they tell jokes; but the good comedians use humor as a way to provoke a strong response. They get to stand on stage and yell out the opinions many of us just whisper behind closed doors. When the blogs come out strongly in opposition to some of his jokes maybe those who found them funny might consider the feelings of someone who was deeply hurt. Perhaps his misunderstanding of the reality that members in the LGBTQIA+ face; will force a conversation between a parent and child who is debating “coming out of the closet.” Make sure you pull up Netflix to give it a view then post your reaction online. As the saying goes, “’Sticks & Stones’ may break my bones but words can never hurt me” but sometimes they do.