For those who don’t already know, Dave Chappelle is an American stand-up comic and actor. His comedy has always focused on racism, relationships, social problems, politics and pop culture. He became widely known for his syndicated comedy show called The Chappelle Show.
In 2016 he retired from that successful show at the height of its popularity, moved to South Africa, and pretty much kept a really low profile until his recent return. All we really know about the hiatus is that something significant happened because no one just walks away from success and a $50 million dollar contract. In a great recent interview with Gayle King when asked if he misses the his show he said
The Chappelle Show is like breaking up with a girl and you still like her but in you mind you’re like that b**** is crazy… and I’m not going back.
Chappelle came back to our TVs last year with a $60 million dollar three-part stand-up comedy special on Netflix. The final instalment Dave Chappelle: Equanimity was released on December 31st 2018 with a suprise 4th included, Dave Chappelle: The Bird Revelation.
I didn’t grow up with the Chappelle Show. I’m not sure whether the irrelevance to me at time was because of my age or life stage or it simply wasn’t my cuppa. Who knows. I only started really watching his show after it ended and have been watching since then.
The thing about watching Chappelle is that it is uncomfortable. He’s also smart and funny. His Netflix Specials have been faced with both heavy applause for the clever format, punch lines and reconciliation of paradoxes. Chappelle has always faced criticism for his lines and that’s no exception for his Netflix shows. Some of the controversy is about the transgender jokes which he doubled down in his latest release, and the #MeToo ones he added.
He has a line about how “Everything is funny, until it’s about you…”. I personally recommend you watch his three-part Netflix specials and arrive at your own opinion about his work. I do have a deep appreciation for his smart funny writing and delivery style. I also like how he is an equal opportunity comedian even when it’s about me.
Regardless of how you may feel about his style and material, we can at least all agree that he’s got us all talking about some of these very difficult conversations about ourselves and the paradoxical world we live in.
In general and especially in todays climate, I do wonder about comedy and its lines. The line between pure genius and stupidity… reconciliatory vs divisive hunor. This has led me to ask how IS social commentary and observational comedy even supposed to look like anyway?