Dave Chappelle is this year’s winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and in the award’s 20-year history, he’s one of the few recipients who really deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Twain. (Sorry, Will Ferrell! No offense, Tina Fey!) Seeing Chappelle get the recognition he deserves for his comedic genius is especially sweet in 2019, when he’s managed to infuriate so many social justice warriors by joking about whatever he wants, however he wants. His most recent Netflix special, Sticks & Stones, had a lengthy bit about the LGBTQ community, or as he calls them, the “Alphabet People.” These days, that’s the third rail of comedy. A lot of folks didn’t like his jokes about it, and he did not care.
I think this complaint about Chappelle’s material was my favorite:
You can definitely skip Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special ‘Sticks & Stones.’ https://t.co/qyueiskA9I
— VICE (@VICE) August 26, 2019
Your magazine is literally called Vice, and you’re complaining that a comedian hurt your feelings? I’m so sorry this is happening to you.
But never let it be said that Dave Chappelle is unwilling to address the concerns of his audience. Speaking to the press at the event, he said this:
Dave Chappelle: “Political correctness has its place… I, personally, am not afraid of other people’s freedom of expression. I don’t use it as a weapon. It just makes me feel better. And I’m sorry if I hurt anybody. Etc., etc. Yada, yada, yada. Everything I’m supposed to say.” pic.twitter.com/jdibEYXCbE
— The Hill (@thehill) October 29, 2019
The raspberry he blows to punctuate his rote recitation of the ritual apology he’s expected to give is perfect.
If Dave Chappelle seems disrespectful, that’s because he doesn’t owe you anything just because he hurt your feelings. His job is to make an audience laugh, not to make sure you’re feeling okay. If he makes you angry, you have the right to be angry. And he has the right to tell you to go do something else with your time. Go to a Hannah Gadsby show, or some other safe space where your precious ego won’t be bruised. It has nothing to do with him. He is not responsible for your emotions.
That also goes for Louis CK or Michael Che or Shane Gillis or any other comedians who say things you don’t want them to say. Get over yourself or get gone. If you can’t laugh at yourself, there’s no need to stick around while the rest of us laugh at you.