Legendary comedian Dave Chappelle has always been intelligently vulgar, outrageous and offensive. In 2019, he’s still all of those things — on purpose. And the people who are outraged at Chappelle’s latest stand-up comedy special, “Sticks & Stones,” don’t understand what Chappelle was trying to do. Basically, if you are outraged at Chappelle’s latest special, you fell for the bait.
Chappelle was offensive as he could possibly be, to as many people as possible, on purpose! The title of the special alone should’ve given people an inkling of an idea that Chappelle was going to return to his classic, uninhibited form that made him a legend among his fans. Nothing was off-limits, and no one was safe.
Too often so many people get “outraged” at things that they just hear about. I wonder what the percentage of people is these days that get mad at content without ever actually watching the thing they’re mad at?
Context matters. Despite what the outrage mob, which exists all over the political spectrum, would like you to think, anything can be funny in the right context.
The greats all knew this. Whether it was George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy or Ricky Gervais, they all knew/know how to take controversial issues and make them funny for most people. Obviously, there are going to be people that aren’t going to find something funny no matter what. In those cases, if you’re somebody that could be susceptible to taking offense to jokes, why would you watch comedians like that in the first place?
Don’t ruin it for everyone else.
If you did watch “Sticks & Stones” and you were still offended, I understand, but you missed the point of what Chappelle was trying to do. He was pushing back against the outrage mob by being as outrageous as he possibly could be. Chappelle purposefully chose topics that he knew would elicit a response from a lot of different groups, and judging by his delivery, he didn’t care one bit.
Chappelle literally tried to drop hints at what he was trying to do near the beginning of the special. This clip has made its rounds already, so I’m not really spoiling anything (WARNING: Graphic Language):
Exactly! The people in the crowd had no idea who the second impression Chappelle did was supposed to be. Probably because it was a little too close to home. By telling the crowd upfront that regular people are the ones who always get offended, Chappelle set up an evening that he knew was going to be controversial. It was on purpose, and people still fell for it.
You could tell that Chappelle was having fun, and it translated to a lot of out-loud laughs. Did I agree with everything he said or laugh at every joke? No, but why do I need to?
And that’s another point of this brilliant performance, which I wouldn’t put above 2000’s “Killin’ Them Softly” or 2004’s “For What It’s Worth.” You don’t necessarily need to agree with a person’s point of view to find a particular joke funny. I could understand if the comedian’s whole set was about a certain topic. But, why does everyone need to agree about everything? That’s pretty authoritarian if you ask me.
As someone who saw Chappelle live in 2004, I can say with all certainty that Chappelle is as sharp a comic as he ever was.
“Sticks & Stones” is probably Chappelle’s best effort since signing on to do stand-up specials for Netflix. If you enjoy unafraid comedy, with a purpose of promoting free speech, this special is for you. Is this type of comedy for everyone? Probably not, but we need to stop getting outraged at things without knowing the context of the content. We all need to stop looking for things to get mad about.
On a five-star scale, I would give Dave Chappelle’s “Sticks & Stones” four stars for being a very good Chappelle special, but not the best of his career.