We all know when you hear the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” becomes a viral sensation, people are going to react with pure opposition.
Dave’s Netflix special finds its footing coming out the gate by opening up with Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, the Michael Jackson documentary, and R. Kelly’s new alleged sex scandal with a teenager. After the first 15 minutes, I realized I was grinning and laughing at Dave’s spin on the topics and how ridiculous things have gotten within media. Dave’s analytical approach to maintaining his celebrity status is fettered in this special with classic Chappelle motifs and conscious thought.
Pushing ahead with many stories, Dave jests about how society has put a crucifixion on many celebrities today. Although, with the likes of LGBTQ+ and living in an opioid epidemic among Caucasians used as ammo, Dave straightens out the face how hard it is to be an entertainer in today’s political climate. The biggest standout of all is how right he is. Dave’s approach to comedy has never shied away from being abundantly forthright and strictly truthful to the audience. The general public has given flack to his performance on how he’s not for the ‘ABC’ gang, even though he clearly states he’s not against it.
This is where I think people have forgotten how Dave’s standup and Chappelle Show used to be.
Dave has beaten out punchlines before on par with Sticks and Stones by using it as a way to alleviate the fatigue of ongoing news, popular scandals, critique of a group of people, and oversensitivity to many people. An example of this is Dave’s point of view on political happenstance is the discussion he has with the audience about his celebrity status and the dangers it represents to be a part of something, such as the R. Kelly documentary. Dave is not the social justice warrior newer audiences would like him to be. He’s just Dave.
However, coming strong on topics of cancel culture, abortion, and suicide seems too much for audiences to handle. Viewers felt Dave was fixed on using transphobic and homophobic conversation to get a laugh from the crowd to such a point the phrase “I’m not offended” was used in Twitter feeds. This proves points about what Dave focused on in his special: critics’ response.
I don’t think I did anything wrong, but… but we’ll see. – Dave Chappelle (2019)
He’s never taken a shot in the dark. Speaking of shooting, he’s not slamming a community for not trying, but how he hopes his child never has to face these dilemmas which have become consistent and further dangerous. Dave finds personal solace within his bits when he takes a moment to educate his masses who are listening with good intention. His rambunctious nature with finesse and proclivity toward making a joke isn’t without failure to launch, but to teach. Finding a reason to nitpick and hopeful for offensive commentary puts Dave in the crossfires of this “celebrity hunting season“. The jokes do not layer upon being downright offensive, but obvious toward the public. Dave claims he’s a referred to as a victim blamer. In retrospect, Dave doesn’t want to be caught up in the whole streamline of sheep’s thought, he’s here to entertain, plain and simple.
“This is why I don’t be coming out doing comedy all the time”, says Dave. “I’m sick of it. This is the worst time ever to be a celebrity. You’re gonna be finished. Everyone’s doomed”.
For what Dave’s comedy represents is making sure everyone takes a knee and feels a blow. He uses the environment to be witty and perceptive as he’s always been. Controversy aside, these are elements Dave has never been apropos for. Criticism for Dave is fuel to his fire and what keeps him going. That’s the essence of how comedy began. It isn’t even the form of black entertaining comedy, just flat out good old fashioned comedy from a legend with no holds barred.
Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones available on Netflix.