by Anthony Rivera
After a decade-long disappearance from comedy, famous comedian, writer and actor Dave Chappelle has made a huge comeback with his new debut specials on Netflix.
The 43-year-old, D.C.-based comedian grew his comedy career from minor comedy club circuits in New York City, to broadening his career by performing as Anchoo in Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” Since that role, Chappelle’s career skyrocketed to performing in front of mass audiences that followed and supported him for years to come.
During his time on his Comedy Central show, “The Chappelle Show,” he gained support and created a loyal fan base. The fans had been maintained for quite some time until an unfortunate incident with some conflict between fans that were heckling his recording of the shows, while Chappelle also felt mistreated by the management. After long deliberation, Chappelle chose to leave “The Chappelle Show” and retreat into a more self-reflecting state, spending time with his wife and three children.
Two specials were released on March 21 to reignite Chappelle’s career. The internet, radio, various other media outlets and people have different views as to how his demeanor has changed after his decade-long absence.
In his early years, Chappelle was heavily focused on race-driven comedy, along with the inclusion of current political issues, including police brutality and civil rights. Given that his reputation has naturally been a black and satirical comedian, the revival of his stand-up was anticipated with his natural prowess; high energy, quick bits, heavy political issues and black humor. Between two performances, however, he is very different from the young man who stood in front of a microphone to tell jokes at the young age of 19.
In the two-episode season released on Netflix, the first one was titled “The Age of Spin” and had a lot of transitions between jokes that represent his comedic style, especially his four anecdotes of meeting O.J. Simpson, which received high controversy due to the nature of the nation’s view of him. On one occasion when the allegation was first made, Chapelle shook his hand. When one of his representatives said to him, “How dare you shake hands with that murderer?” In Chapelle’s defense against his former representation, he responded by saying, “Miss… that murderer ran over 11,000 yards”.
Along with other jokes that reveal his inappropriate behavior that has been heard before, Chappelle has presented a side of himself that many have not seen. Chappelle truly revealed the intellect and wisdom that he has obtained over the years by expressing his social views. Multiple times during “The Age of Spin,” he chose to express his views on the homosexual community in a way that did not go against their sexual identities, but discussed the legal issues involving the recent laws and movements towards same-sex couples. By comparing it to the black community, Chappelle clearly outlined some very convincing and simply truthful points about asking for too much too quickly in the judiciary system.
In Chappelle’s second show, “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” Chappelle furthered views on certain social standards. During one bit, he speaks about when he attended a gallery and a transgender man was having trouble as he was under the influence. Chappelle came up to the group and asked if “he” was okay. Without skipping a beat, one of the men trying to assist the intoxicated man, who was wearing a dress, rudely responds to Chappelle saying, “SHE… is fine.” He prefaced his next part to the joke by reinstituting that anybody should be allowed to be whoever they feel as though they are on the inside. This lead the well-known comedian to respond to the men by saying, “Look, I’m sorry guys because… she looks terrible. She just fell off the bench… it appears her d*** is popping out of her dress.”
At the age of 43, Chappelle has a family, has diversified himself in more ways than one can imagine and shed some light on some of the very hard-to-talk-about topics that are current in American society. His acts of speaking freely and discussing his struggles along with those of Hispanics, homosexuals and women has shown his amount of growth and the dedication he puts into being genuine both on and offstage.
In regards to politics, Chappelle, like many others, believe that there will be a time where it will be nice to not have to talk about President Donald Trump simply because he won’t be on everyone’s minds. It will be very interesting to see Chappelle’s career evolve from this stage and hopefully, for fans like myself, it will bring great returns.