Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special, Sticks and Stones, dropped this past week. I watched the special twice and did not read any reviews until after writing this article. Here are some of my thoughts:
This week, I watched Dave Chappelle’s new special, Sticks and Stones.
Early on in the set, Chappelle addresses the recent takedown of celebrities, like Kevin Hart, due to jokes made over ten years ago. He then proceeds to make fun of almost every group of people you can conjure: Blacks, Whites, Asians, Latinos, crack heads, heroin addicts, rape victims, and even the sacred LGBTQ community.
Now, I won’t dive into detail on the jokes for two reasons:
I want you to watch this masterful special without any spoilers
I don’t want Dave Chappelle to sue my ass for millions of dollars for intellectual property theft (Would that count as intellectual property theft? Doesn’t hurt to be safe).
For what I’m about to talk about, all you need to know is:
Chappelle mentions that the mob “cancels” comedians when they make fun of the “Alphabet People” aka the LGBTQ community.
Chappelle then cleverly and brutally places the LGBTQ community at the butt of his jokes just like every other group, maybe even more so.
Here is why Chappelle ripping on all groups of people, including perceived untouchables like the LGBTQ community, actually brings us closer together:
Who decides which groups are “off-limits” from comedy?
Really, who decides? Is there a round table of politically correct people who cross marginalized groups off of a board?
Hey everyone, thanks for attending the meeting today. This week, no jokes about Gay people, Black people, Gay Black people, and Straight Mexicans. Asians, go crazy though. Do you know what I just realized? Spongebob is yellow AND can’t drive. He must be at least half Asian.
No person or group of politically correct elites have the right to determine who can and cannot be the subject of comedy.
What factors would go into that decision?
Who would set the standards?
How would we elect the “safe keepers” of comedy?
Setting up a non-corrupt, rational system of comedic protections would, of course, not be possible. Jokes are the great equalizer, and everyone is in play.
No group is weaker than the others.
By corralling a particular group of people into “safe space” from comedy, you are saying:
We think that (insert marginalized group) are too weak, too mentally unfit, and emotionally incapable of handling jokes like the rest of us.
By placing a group of people off-limits from jokes, you are marginalizing them, NOT protecting them.
For example, if you think that it’s not okay to make fun of Black people, what does that say about Black people? Do they need to be protected, coddled, and infantilized? Are Black people mentally unfit to handle a joke? Are the protectors superior to the protected?
Of course, not. Black people, as well as any other group, don’t need to be protected from jokes, nor did they ask for it, which brings me to my next point.
No person can speak for an entire community.
The monolithic voice of the Black, Trans, Gay, Latino, etc. community is a myth.
When someone steps up to the podium and says, “On behalf of my community,” they are attempting to paint their voice onto the experiences of millions of people.
How could one person possibly understand how an entire community feels?
Let’s take the Transgender community, for example. Here are the things you know about a person that says they are Transgender:
They are Transgender
Things you don’t know about a person who tells you that they are Transgender:
How they treat others
How they think
Whether or not they are offended by Transgender jokes, the list goes on…
So much diversity exists within groups of people that the idea of a “group” is silly. More diversity exists within groups than between them.
I have met Black people who could not be more different.
I have met White people who could not be more different.
I have met Gay people who could not be more different.
No “Black experience” or “White experience” or “Gay experience” exists.
If you have similar thought processes to other people, it’s not because you look the same or fuck the same sex. And if you think differently than someone else, it’s not because you look different.
Of course, this line of reasoning seems rational, but many people sit rigid within the groupthink mentality.
Comedy breaks down the groupthink barrier:
Like Dave Chappelle states in the special, “I make fun of different communities because I see myself in them.” Comedy connects us, and when you kill a set like Chappelle, it’s a beautiful thing.
Humor loosens up the difficult topics to make them easier to confront.
Without jokes, our world would self-destruct. The tension would build until chaos takes over.
Thank God for people, like Dave Chappelle, who see the humanity in all groups, and unite that humanity through laughter.