In his latest Netflix special, “The Dreamer,” Dave Chappelle takes his audience on a rollercoaster ride through the highs and lows of his comedic journey. While the special starts with a nostalgic trip down memory lane, it quickly veers into controversial territory, particularly regarding the transgender community.
Chappelle, known for his no-holds-barred comedy, delves into an anecdote about meeting Jim Carrey on the set of “Man on the Moon.” The twist? He draws a seemingly unconventional analogy, comparing the experience to how trans people make him feel. The comedian, who had vowed not to make jokes about the transgender community after facing backlash in the past, teased the audience with promises of restraint.
“If you guys came here tonight thinking I’m going to make fun of those people again, you’ve come to the wrong show,” he declared, adding, “I’m not messing with those people anymore.” However, true to his unpredictable style, he couldn’t resist a few jabs, claiming, “Maybe three or four times tonight, but that’s it. I’m tired of talking about them.”
Chappelle then boldly announces a shift in focus, steering away from trans jokes to instead target the handicapped community because, as he puts it, “they’re not as organized as the gays.” The controversial decision to “punch down” sets the tone for a series of jokes that push the boundaries.
The comedian humorously reveals an attempt to mend fences with the transgender community through a play. Describing it as both sad and moving, the play revolves around a black transgender woman whose pronoun is, humorously and controversially, “n—a.” Chappelle paints a vivid picture of her tragic fate, dying of loneliness because, as he claims, “white liberals don’t know how to speak to her.”
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The Netflix special also explores the comedian’s imaginative take on identity, with a joke about identifying as a woman if he were to land in prison. The scenario involves Chappelle confidently asserting his identity and humorously challenging fellow inmates in a way only he can.
Amidst the laughter, Chappelle shares a real-life encounter where he was attacked onstage at the Hollywood Bowl in 2022. The assailant, armed with a fake gun concealing a real knife, identifies as bis*xual. Chappelle turns the incident into comedy, suggesting that he “triggered” the attacker by discussing the LGBTQIA+ community, adding a touch of satire to a potentially alarming situation.
Predictably, Chappelle’s latest Netflix special has not escaped criticism. Allies of the LGBTQIA+ community have expressed their disappointment, with social media users calling him a “pathetic a—hole” and labeling the performance as “another s—ty stand-up special.”
This isn’t the first time Chappelle has faced backlash for his comedy. His 2021 special, “The Closer,” led to protests and employee walkouts at Netflix over offensive remarks. The comedian has also been accused of normalizing anti-Semitism during his hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live.”
As controversy swirls around “The Dreamer,” Dave Chappelle remains unapologetically true to his comedic style, pushing boundaries, challenging societal norms, and navigating the fine line between humor and offense. Love him or loathe him, Chappelle’s impact on comedy is undeniable, leaving audiences divided and conversations ignited.