If He Hollers Let Him Go

GhansahOnChappelle
Click picture above to read The Believer article by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah,
“If He Hollers Let Him Go, Searching for Dave Chappelle ten years after he left his own show.”

One of the best articles I’ve read in a long while – and it happened to be the only confirmation I’ve ever seen of my thoughts about why Dave left Comedy Central.

Addendum: Dave Chappelle ascended to the mountaintop of comedy. He amassed the goodwill of billions and became a voice that people wanted to hear. He has since taken all of that and thrown it in the toilet. In a time of unprecedented inequality, war, corporate criminality, corrupt politicians, global warming, cops murdering black kids and adults with impunity and countless other horrors, Dave has chosen to punch down and belittle serious crimes while offering nothing original. And it’s not funny.

Can he still be funny? Sure, but his latest attempts at comedy are pathetic and bordering on cruel. He clearly thinks he’s the most macho of all the comics now – in fact, my guess is that he actually thinks he is fighting for comics to be able to say whatever they want. Well, he’s doing it wrong.

He made an extra to tack on to one of his Netflix specials. He tells a long anecdote about how he ended up sitting with a bunch (or let’s call them a murder) of neoliberal politicians at a stand-up gig. He talks about how well they all got along…and then he talks about how great it was to meet prince charles (who he was introduced to by gavin newsome). The episode ends with him meeting obama (who kamala harris had earlier asked dave to call). He’s telling on himself and he doesn’t even know it.

Chappelle has become a clueless, rich, mostly unfunny, celebrity who punches down and has no problem hanging with politicians who are greatly responsible for that oppression, because they do the bidding of the corporations and ultra-rich who purchase them. The saddest thing of all is that people are still eating it up. In the 70’s, Sammy Davis Jr. was pilloried (especially by black people) for running up to Nixon and giving him a big hug. Chappelle hasn’t done that, but he went on national television (SNL) and joked that he would benefit from the election of trump, and then he went even farther and asked people to “give him a chance.” He eventually had to sorta kinda apologize, but was given a pass by most people and all of his fans. There’s no excuse for this. Sammy wasn’t born into a family of scholars. Sammy never heard from the left or had much political knowledge at all. dave obviously knows very little about politics, but he should know better, and that is unforgivable.

To add insult to injury, he is a hypocrite (in his comedy act no less). He claims to know what it’s like to be poor and intimates that he grew up poor. Aside from the fact that he was never poor and has had money since he was 15, he has been rich for decades now. I’m not a fan of “cancel culture,” and actually believe its power has been overestimated, but dave has gone out of his way to cancel himself. Not because he is not “politically correct,” but because it’s clear he has chosen to side with his people, the 1%, against struggling and oppressed people. The irony in all of this is that he probably thinks he’s practicing the “sick humor” and satire of Lenny Bruce and Paul Krassner, but (again) he’s doing it wrong. Lenny and Paul used their talents to go after the rich and powerful and call out hypocrisy. dave is now using his talents to go after the poor and oppressed while hanging with the rich and powerful. It’s sad to watch, dispiriting, and disgusting enough to make your skin crawl – but apparently in the 21st century, all of this gets a pass as he collects his tens of millions from netflix and his fans cheer for more.

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