Dave Chappelle has been criticised after jokes about women and race in his new standup tour. As he attempted to connect with audiences, questions have been raised about whether Chappelle is offering “blackness” on the left as a ticket to entry into a club. In his Edinburgh show last week, Chappelle joked about being “upset” by Colin Kaepernick’s failure to be rewarded by the NFL, by saying that the football star should have taken a stand “against HGH.”
The comic also said: “I don’t appreciate black folks who put on these airs about being oppressed. That just ain’t me. I just don’t like being tried as a subject. I like to be addressed as an individual, first of all. And secondly, I get it. If I don’t say anything, I’m not the funny black dude you want me to be. And so I have to temper that… I think Colin’s attitude about that is very disrespectful.”
Chappelle’s audience were also outraged about his last year’s election show. In the past month he has shown footage of people of colour denying that Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement, and slammed black people over pop culture in his new show.
“I do wish black comedians could get as far as some of white comedians. If Chappelle was more politically correct, he would have been a comedian of the same stripe, but he would not be ‘Chappelle the comedian’. “Shirtless or toga-clad – that’s comedy for you”, he wrote on Instagram.
Women have been especially vocal about Chappelle’s performance. Last night, Obama’s former chief strategist, David Axelrod, called on Chappelle to apologise. “He clearly doesn’t understand black life, black struggle or what it’s like to see young, black kids committed to hospitals with white nurses and all of a sudden they come out of the hospital and they’re on prosthetics and long hair and they’re taking all the time that they can get because there’s no money, and those kids are not equipped to handle it.”
Scarlett Johansson called the jokes offensive and unpresidential. “Dave Chappelle, you are doing an incredible job of putting out what’s already out there,” she said. “To continue with that discourse on race that most people think is too heavy or racist for laughs is just an exercise in noise.”
In response, Chappelle said of himself: “Sometimes I still do stuff to distract myself from my own brain.”