Dave Chappelle Again Proves Comedy is Dead

With his new special, the veteran comedian shows not only that he’s back in full form three-plus years into his ‘comeback’, but that the only reason it ever seemed otherwise evolved as politics has attempted to make laughter the ultimate sin

Dave Chappelle on stage in Atlanta, filmed for his most recent Netflix special  Sticks and Stones,  released on August 26th

Dave Chappelle on stage in Atlanta, filmed for his most recent Netflix special Sticks and Stones, released on August 26th

9/3/19, 9: 25 pm EDT

By John Corry, photos from Letterbox, Netflix, and Comedy Central

His name was Clayton Bigsby, and he would live in infamy forever

Bigsby was the ultimate hyperbole: a fictional character in the very first sketch of the very first episode of a sketch-comedy show from a young comedian known for his EDGY commentary on race, and, in its narration, the perfect paradox: a black man who, due to his being blind his entire life, is also a staunch white supremacist.

A scene from Comedy Central’s  Chappelle’s Show,  featuring Dave Chappelle as white supremacist Clayton Bigsby on the left; SPOILER ALERT: the show ends after Bigsby is informed of his race, and answers the interviewer when asked why he divorced his wife of many years: “she was a n*gger lover”

A scene from Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show, featuring Dave Chappelle as white supremacist Clayton Bigsby on the left; SPOILER ALERT: the show ends after Bigsby is informed of his race, and answers the interviewer when asked why he divorced his wife of many years: “she was a n*gger lover”

That was in 2003. Since then: the show went off the air in 2006 after only 2 1/2 seasons and a TON of success, and Chappelle went on an indefinite hiatus until he reappeared around 2015. He’s since played a number of stand-up sets in the US, and he famously hosted SNL the first Saturday after the 2016 election. His most recent stand-up special, Sticks and Stones, is his fifth special since his return, and his fifth of a deal with Netflix.

It was not well-received…

Taylor Hosking at Vice said in a quasi-viral essay called ‘You Can Definitely Skip Dave Chappelle's New Netflix Special 'Sticks & Stones'‘ that Chappelle “doubles down on misogyny and transphobia in both the special and the hidden bonus scene that follows.” You can read a transcript of the set here. Inkoo Kang from Slate said that “watching Dave Chappelle’s latter-day comedy specials… is like dropping in on a rascally uncle who doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, how much he’s disappointing you,” a reference to that crazy uncle everybody (or: most people?) has who never knows how to read a room. A wise man once said “cocaine is a helluva drug”.

So is being a dick.

We are not being hyperbolic.

But some people are ‘better’ at being ‘dicks’ (or whatever other run-of-the-mill insult one may want to use #HeDidNOTJustSayThatTheSpecificWordIsntThatImportantWhenItComesToInsults) than others, meaning: some people use ‘being a dick’ to get a point across. Make no mistake: they’re still ‘being a dick’ (which, if the sole reason for the proposition, is not cool, but that’s not what we’re talking about here, as that’s obvious), but–depending on how much work was put into it, and what risk may come as a result of its exfoliation–they have something at least a little more respectable going on at heart, that being, however rightly or wrongly they may be going about it (a debate for another time): they genuinely want to teach people something.

Whether that thinking is pretentious, or elitist, or that being a dick can all too often be akin to not successfully reading a room (which is not the case for Chappelle; he’s a comedian, and one of the biggest, if not the biggest, of his generation; most people would have seen something like this coming), the now-relevant fact remains: not all things are easily taught, and not all people are equally learned (this is not a burn on intelligences; ‘learned’ here closest representing the fact that no two people have the exact same knowledge of anything, or the exact same capacity for certain types of knowledge (for example: a mathematician will be more capable of understanding calculus than, say, a professional soccer player who’s only ever taken Algebra II ten years ago, but the soccer player will have a type of knowledge regarding what it’s like to be an athlete in a way that the mathematician who has never played soccer will have a much harder time grasping, (similarly to the soccer player grasping calculus))).

YOU’RE being hyperbolic.

And so the ‘dick’ is forced to recede into her darkest passions for relief from a world which aims to ignore those passions–to pretend that they don’t exist–rather than face the challenge of their factual existences in ‘beings’ we call ‘humans’, with a consciousness we do not yet know the full origins of, and a will existent only through that ‘will-to-learn’ and the acknowledgement that “not all things are easily taught, and not all people are equally learned”. She has to make that thought apparent, but she can’t hit it too hard without alienating the people who need to hear it most– those people who refuse to face the reality that ‘conversation’ is the closest in-time concept (ontologically complex, and so closer to possibly understood perception) we know which may serve as a type of that ‘origin of consciousness’, and who want to chastise anything which they cannot immediately attach a personal-emotional baggage to. There’s nothing wrong with expecting an opportunity for emotional understanding from a work of art, but there is something wrong with getting so mad at the fact that you didn’t that you try to ruin it for everyone else who may have. And when so many people clearly got something from it, you’re clearly missing something anyway.

But laughter is what makes that okay. It’s what makes it acceptable that you don’t know everything there is to know (no one does; no one can in a world bound by time (death) (‘world’ is the human’s full perception of objective/subjective (ontological) reality in-time)), and what bounds us all together in that acceptance. It’s what happens every time you know you did something terrible, yet realize that it’s not ‘the end of the world’ and that ‘the end of the world’ is a ridiculous proposition anyway (!), given that consciousness (what perceives that ‘world’) is not yet fully known (!!), and may never be (!!!). The idea that it may never be is beyond any single one. It’s not pointless to think about (to the contrary: it might be a primary aid to humor, love, or any other in-time understanding of the ‘moment’); it is pointless to get upset over.

When we forget that is when we need to laugh, and when we forget that< is when we need someone there to laugh with us. Be they on the internet, or through a text traveled across all time and space, that laughter is the combination of the two different possible perceptions of time for human consciousness: objectivity and subjectivity

Objective in the potential understanding of what makes something funny (in the case of a ‘joke’: context and exaggeration) coalescing with the actual act of laughing, and subjective in the act of laughing (as understood, not ‘actual’) with the inherent understanding that everything which went into making that laugh is no more potentially fully understood than the full recognition of any other specific ‘moment’ in time (no ‘moment’ will ever be exactly the same, nor will it ever be repeated or ‘remembered’ Absolutely; otherwise it is not ‘the moment’ (conceptually-speaking (and until the concept ‘death’ is beyond consciousness))).

“I’ll be real with you, and I know nobody gives a fuck what I think anyway… I’m not for abortion. Oh, shut up, nigga. I’m not for it, but I’m not against it either. It all depends… on who I get pregnant. I don’t care– I’ll tell you right now. I don’t care what your religious beliefs are or anything. If you have a dick, you need to shut the fuck up on this one. Seriously. This is theirs. The right to choose is their unequivocal right. Not only do I believe they have the right to choose, I believe that they shouldn’t have to consult anybody, except for a physician, about how they exercise that right. Gentleman, that is fair. And ladies, to be fair to us, I also believe if you decide to have the baby, a man should not have to pay. That’s fair. If you can kill this motherfucker, I can at least abandon ’em. It’s my money, my choice.” –Dave Chappelle, about two thirds into Sticks and Stones

Is it funny?

It’s not funny if everything is nothing if not politics=emotion. It is funny because the wording is exaggerated, the context easily placed, and the point makes sense. The whole build-up is predicated on the assertion that abortion is a difficult topic, yet it spares no punches for that assertion, for any side, because laughter happens first in ‘the moment’, and cannot be premeditated without losing its significance.

Sure (yeah, sure), none of the rest of the set (for the most part) sets up in this way, but the premise from the start is clear enough (assuming most of the critics were not there for the live performance): it’s called Sticks and Stones, like: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?

It’s a crazy concept, I know, but some people may get it (but what do you mean ‘some people’!?)…

It’s been almost 20 years since Clayton Bigsby DESTROYED THE WORLD, and I still hear about him every day, about how horrible he was, about how he destroyed our universe… and my dreams.

Do you???

(Okay… this is a hyperbole, but so is most of what people write nowadays… I guess all or none of us should be allowed to laugh with Dave Chappelle (killing me softly with his song)...)