Dave Chappelle Netflix Special, “Equanimity.”
Dave Chappelle doesn’t offend me. “I’m not saying it to be mean. I’m saying to be funny. And everything is funny… until it happens to you.”
Even as I recoil at the latest bit of controversy-baiting in Chappelle’s new Netflix specials (particularly Equanimity, the more formal of the two), I recognize that my criticisms of the still-funny 44-year-old comedian aren’t rooted in how offended I am by his words. My feelings aren’t hurt. I’m not angry at him. That word “offend” is wielded like a knife, and many times, when discussing a public figure or public discourse, it’s wholly inappropriate. And in railing against “PC culture” and our all-too-easily offended national state, Dave Chappelle makes it clear that he doesn’t give a shit if you are offended by what he says onstage.
“I make it a point to never feel bad about anything I say up here,” he declares directly in Equanimity.
Equanimity filmed in Washington D.C.
Filmed in his home turf of Washington, D.C., Equanimity is an interesting title for the bigger special: even-keeled, calm, grace under fire. It suggests that the beloved comic sees himself as the cooler head in a world that’s burning. Or maybe he feels he’s withstood a certain amount of fire himself and remained unflappably Dave. The latter seems more true; in his latest specials, Dave Chappelle refuses to be anything but Dave Chappelle.
Chappelle tackles the controversy of his spring Netflix specials head-on. His bewilderment at having been charged with transphobia after joking about trans women (“Let’s go to the club and trick niggas into fucking us. Yeah.”) is tempered with both empathy for the community he routinely mocks and more jokes about that community. His argument is that anyone who would think his words are an excuse to go out and harm someone is an idiot and he doesn’t hate trans people because everyone deserves to be happy. The moral of the story? Dave Chappelle makes fun of everybody—you can get these jokes, too.