In a week teeming with dialogue about the hostile, misgendering “jokes” comedian Lil Duvall told about trans women on the radio show The Breakfast Club, it seems kind of insane that another cis dude would decide to weigh in with his own observations about trans people. But here we are, and according to Jesse David Fox at Vulture, there was Dave Chappelle last night kicking off his 16-show residency at Radio City Music Hall saying more things for laughs at the expense of a population he clearly knows nothing about—and wants to keep knowing nothing about so he can use them for joke-fodder.
“For about the first 20 minutes of his set, Chappelle almost exclusively talked about trans issues,” writes Fox. Some lowlights included, in Fox’s words:
- “He started by talking about how he was ‘shocked!’ by Trump’s ban on transgender officers in the military, because he didn’t realize there were any trans people in the military. ‘Sounds like a secret weapon to me,’ he continued. ‘If I was in ISIS in the trenches fighting against the United States and all of the sudden I see a man with a beard and big D-cups titties just rushing my foxhole and shit, I’d be horrified.’”
- “Later, he told a story about receiving a fan letter that derided his trans jokes, to which he replied, ‘A weird thing happened to me in this moment — it honestly made me feel bad that I made somebody else feel bad.’ That was, however, just misdirection for another series of trans jokes.”
- “‘I read in the paper that Caitlyn Jenner was contemplating posing nude in an upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. And I knew it was politically incorrect to say, so I figured I’d just say it for everybody — yuck. Fuck, man, I just want to read some stats, like why are you cramming man-pussy in the middle of the sports page like that?’”
- “He then tried to make a fairly complicated point about his own frustration with ‘all this talk about how they feel inside,’ because ‘since when has America given a fuck about how anyone feels inside?’ He ended by arguing that sometimes he thinks ‘the only reason all of us are talking about transgenders is because white men want to do it. If it was just blacks and Mexican like, ‘Hey, y’all, we feel like girls inside.’ They’d be like, ‘Shut up, nigger, no one asked how you felt.’’”
And then there’s this from Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review of the Radio City show:
Mr. Chappelle makes pleas for treating transgender people with respect, even praising their courage relative to Ms. Dolezal. But when he goes deeper into his feelings, he returns to the frame of race.
He finds the discussion about sensitivity toward transgender “reeks of white privilege,” and wonders pointedly why it’s easier for Caitlyn Jenner to change gender than it was for Cassius Clay to change his name?
If you recall the string of trans jokes Chappelle told during one of his Netflix specials, released in the spring, there was also one predicated on the lie that only white people are trans. It went: “If the police shot half as many transgenders as they did niggas last year, it’d be a fucking war in L.A. I know black dudes in Brooklyn—hard street motherfuckers—that wear high heels just to feel safe.” Last year, there were at least 22 trans murders reported (the exact number varies according to the source)—HRC says that at least 12 of them were black. So far in 2017, 15 trans murders have been reported.
Chappelle’s “black dudes in Brooklyn” joke sounded like the out-of-touch work from an old, grouchy man—and one who seems to have no concept about the epidemic of murders inflicted on the population he feels comfortable enough commenting on repeatedly and at length. And so do those Chappelle told last night. What a goddamn disappointment.