Stand-up comedy legend Dave Chappelle just gets it. You may not agree with a lot of his stances on certain positions, but his comedy is indiscriminate. While he may make jokes at the expense of whatever your “belief system” is, he will do the same for the other side as well. Not only that, but no matter who he’s making jokes about Chappelle doesn’t care whether you’re offended or not — and he shouldn’t.
Chappelle was in his hometown of Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center on Sunday evening to accept the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a lifetime achievement award given out at the Kennedy Center and the highest award a comedian can receive.
The 46-year-old comedian fervently praised the First Amendment throughout the night, beginning with his walk on the event’s red carpet.
“Stand-up comedy is really an American phenomenon,” Chappelle told the media. “It’s the like the best part of the First Amendment to me that I’m able to express myself this way and make a viable living doing it.”
Chappelle is absolutely correct. The U.S., going back to the days of the controversial comedian Lenny Bruce, has been the world’s preeminent stomping grounds for stand-up comedy, because the U.S. is the only place on Earth with true free speech.
As far as apologies for some of the topics he tackles in his comedy, Chappelle takes a more flippant approach to it.
“And I’m sorry if I hurt anybody,” Chappelle continued. “Etc., etc. Yada, yada, yada. Everything I’m supposed to say.”
Here’s a clip of Chappelle’s red carpet comments:
But, perhaps the best part of Chappelle’s comments throughout the evening came after he went on stage to accept his award. Chappelle lit up a cigarette — a taboo in today’s society — and began to push buttons in the best way.
“What are they going to do?” Chappelle said after lighting the cigarette. “Kick me out before I get the prize?”
That’s when Chappelle spoke about “very racist” jokes that some comedians tell on occasion, while also telling the onlooking audience the absolute truth about our rights as Americans.
“Don't get mad at 'em, don't hate on 'em," Chappelle said during his acceptance speech, which will air on PBS in January. "Man, it's not that serious. The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the first one doesn't work out.”
Bravo, sir! Chappelle understand that if the Second Amendment goes by the wayside that the First won’t be far behind it. He knows that the primary reason for the Americans’ right to bear arms is there in case a tyrannical government oversteps its bounds and infringes on our God-given rights.
Congratulations to one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all-time, who I don’t agree with on everything, but I can respect his game because he respects the right of others to speak differently than he does.