Should comedy be taken seriously?
Of course not!
Netflix is set to kick off their inaugural comedy festival, Netflix is a Joke, with over 250 shows and featuring comedy’s Mount Rushmore, Dave Chappelle, Seth Rogen, Kevin Hart and many more. This two week long festival is set to thrill millions of viewers across the globe, while also bringing up the conversation of what comedy should be.
Comedy is an artistic form of expression: it should be taken with a grain of salt and not critiqued by people for being “hurtful” or “offensive.”
With our ever changing society, comedy has been in the crosshairs of many people who disagree with its typically offensive nature. Sure, many comedians use the same reliable formula at shows: make fun of their families, dramatize recent life events and interact with people in the crowd. However, with many, comedy is beginning to change. Comedians have begun to implement political or controversial topics into their sets. The frontrunner of this new comedic movement, Dave Chapelle, has been under major backlash for his comedy performances.
Since reaching a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix, Chapelle has produced five specials with more on the way. His recent special, The Closer, caused a major riot in the entertainment industry. Since 2018, Chapelle has been bombarded with hatred for his jokes against the LBTQ+ community in his past acts. Although he has explicitly said multiple times that he harbors no ill will and that he respects the community, many Gen Zs have taken to social media to tear his name apart. SEXIST! TRANSPHOBIC! It took him a whole Netflix special to once and for all address the controversy, but that did nothing to stop the hottest protest in Netflix history from occurring as many LGBTQ+ employees did a walk out and demanded immediate ramifications for Chapelle’s remarks on the special.
As much as people focused on the provocative jokes in the special, the opposition completely glanced over on Chappelle’s final part of his set, the suicide of Daphne Dorman, a transgender comedian and close friend of his. After defending Chapelle back in 2019 for his “transphobic” jokes, she was bashed by the LGBTQ+ community for defending him. Two weeks later, she took her own life as the hate surrounding her overwhelmed her to the point of no return.
As much as people wanted to paint a picture of Chappelle as being this sexist monster, we need to understand that his comedy should not be taken seriously. Many people have various forms of expression or grieving, and his way just happens to center around burying the emotions with his sense of humor. These jokes might be on the edgier side, but instead of taking them seriously, which is not the intention, Chapelle’s comedy shines a light on challenges that minorities face in this country.
Comedy is not a hate manifesto–comedy is just comedy, all jokes. Instead of coming up with countless points to put down the artist’s point of view, let us just watch them for the very reason why they exist: entertainment!