As Dave Chappelle moves into his third week of defending his Netflix special, The Closer, in which he rehashed the same old anti-trans bigotry he’s been peddling for years, the comedian has both earned an ally in Fox News and begun offering terms for peace accords the “transgender community” didn’t ask for.
In response to the suspensions of trans Netflix staff who daren’t chuckle at his little screed, Chappelle has, via Instagram, “jokingly” offered to meet with those who have lost their livelihoods for publicly finding him unfunny and asserted that comedian Hannah Gadsby is in fact the one who’s not funny.
“And if you want to meet with me, I am more than willing to, but I have some conditions,” the currently touring Chappelle says onstage, saying he has not actually been invited to speak with “transgender employees of Netflix.” He says over laughter: “First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
Chappelle continues to believe that he is some sort of martyr to the culture wars, complaining recently that his name is no longer enough to get his forthcoming documentary into film festivals, despite Rolling Stone’s questions about the veracity of that statement. Even his joke at the expense of those who are currently facing non-ironic unemployment attempts to position Chappelle as the aggrieved party in the conflict between his words versus many other human beings’ lived experience.
Perhaps hoping for headlines like the one I have reluctantly typed above, Chappelle has also dragged Hannah Gadsby into this, likely because she had the audacity to ask to be left out of this when a Netflix executive used her name to point out that the streaming service presents both sides of the argument. The two sides, of course, are people who think that trans people deserve respect and those who wonder if offering that respect isn’t just some ploy to silence aging Gen X comedians clinging to the heyday of their cultural relevancy by using cruelty as an impetus to feign outrage at the response to that cruelty.
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In the middle of this battle of wanting attention versus requesting human decency, I must offer a bit of clarifying information that I’m sure will be of great importance to those following this situation: I was at the Netflix taping of Gadsby’s Douglas, and I not only saw people laughing, but I also laughed myself. As far as I know, no audience members paid to do so; in fact, I actually exchanged American currency for the opportunity. As for the rest of the audience, I cannot say whether they were laughing because they found Gadsby humorous, but I can say with absolutely certainty that I, many times, was compelled to mirth for no reason beyond the hilarious ways in which Gadsby framed her observations.
However, in the interest of journalistic integrity, I have contacted the gentleman I attended the show with (who wishes to be called Dimitry because that is his name) and asked him, on record, for his observational evidence of Gadsby’s funniness. A transcript of the interview, conducted via text, is included below:
Jezebel: Did you, in fact, see Hannah Gadsby perform a comedy routine called Douglas at the Theater in the ACE Hotel, Los Angeles, California? And if so, did you laugh while Gadsby spoke?
Dimitry: I absolutely did. Not only did I laugh, but I laughed so hard I might have peed a little. Like nothing gross, a respectful dribble befitting such a stellar comedic performance.
Let the record show that two witnesses have now come forward to question the validity of Chappelle’s second demand, and let the pee admission serve as proof of the sincerity of their good faith attempt to simply make sure the truth is known.