Comedian suicide-bombers

Louis CK remains the king — wow, but that guy destroyed his reputation spectacularly — but it looks like Dave Chappelle is working hard to catch up. Where once I could respect him for the ol’ “speaking truth to power” routine and his sometimes exceedingly edgy comedy, I guess he found that work too taxing and has decided it’s easier to punch down and start mocking the trans community, while getting highly paid by Netflix.

Netflix, unfortunately, has so much money that quality doesn’t matter anymore — they’ll greenlight anything. I’ve learned that any science-fiction movie promoted by Netflix is going to be mostly garbage, so I’ve been skipping the service more and more. Comedy specials are even worse. They’re ridiculously cheap to make, so it seems that any bigot who wants to make other bigots laugh will get handed a platform. There are exceptions, of course. Netflix put on Hannah Gadsby, who was marvelous and thought-provoking, but that was a rare occasion in a sea of same ol’, same ol’ boring white men with grievances.

Now a Netflix executive, Ted Sarandos, is trying to rationalize hosting an ugly anti-trans comedian by claiming it’s all about “diversity”. I got news for you, Ted: diversity does not mean you should encourage hatred and ignorance. We don’t need stupid to counterbalance intelligence, and we don’t need to slather shit on a tasty sandwich to make it better. I don’t need to “teach the controversy” in the classroom and educate students about evolution by promoting creationist propaganda.

And then he cites Hannah Gadsby as an example of their rainbow of lovely entertainment choices. Gadsby has a few words for that.

Hey Ted Sarandos! Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess. Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chapelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view. You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real world consequences of the hate speech dog whistling you refuse to acknowledge, Ted. Fuck you and your amoral algorithm cult…I do shits with more back bone than you. That’s just a joke! I definitely didn’t cross a line because you just told the world there isn’t one.

Gadsby just shot the cash cow, very good.

Sadly, Chappelle (and Louis CK) will only experience fleeting interruptions in their careers. They’ll bounce right back — in Chappelle’s case, there doesn’t seem to have been any significant pushback at all — and will see their fans rushing into the warm embrace of comfortable bigotry again.


  1. R. L. Foster says

    I lost all respect for Chapelle when, during his last Netflix special, he mocked Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. He said Bourdain was rich and famous, so why would he kill himself? Evidently because he was White. This showed a total lack of awareness about the insidious nature of depression. To milk his death for a few cheap laughs was too much for me. I was so incensed I clicked to something else. I will never watch another minute of Chapelle.

  2. staylor says

    Frankly, I never found Louis CK particularly funny. I consider Chapelle better, but still, never cared much for either of them.
    I kinda like Bill Burr. Not all of his stuff, but ot the whole he is quite a gifted comedian.

  3. chrislawson says

    Dave Chapelle was always good on racism but terrible on sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. He used to get away with it because he never made the bad stuff a large part of his repertoire and he used to undercut his jokes with (admittedly feeble) comments of tolerance. But more recently he has leaned more heavily into the regressive humour, and there’s no way of undercutting lines like “Team TERF”.

    My grounds for optimism here is that I think Chapelle is finally getting serious blowback. It speaks volumes that The Root has been covering this story with absolutely withering takes of Chapelle and his enablers and the commentariat that has been even more withering. Also, Ted Sarandos has found it necessary to walk back his original public comment (not nearly far enough, mind you, but it shows that the blowback is hurting him this time). Chapelle might even find that Netflix is no longer interested in making more comedy specials with him after this.

  4. whywhywhy says

    Most comedians (especially ‘edgey’ ones) have an expiration date. They hit and should then disappear. There are exceptions, but they only prove the rule.

  5. says

    Chapelle had only one truly funny bit: the Samuel Jackson beer sketch on his show back when it aired on Comedy Central. He was wildly successful with it, then suddenly disappeared, which left the show in hiatus–until Comedy Central ran the last few “lost episodes”–and basically destroyed my interest in anything he ever did.

    He can go ahead and disappear again for all I care. He’s not all that talented if his schtick consists of transphobic BS. I’m sorry I wasted my time watching his show on Comedy Central.

  6. PaulBC says

    whywhywhy@6 I’m trying to think of an exception, but all I can come up with are comics who were never very funny to begin with, like Bob Hope (or just very tame at least). Similar for George Burns, though I like him more. Groucho Marx was still witty and quick with a comeback when he was doing You Bet your Life, when he was over 60. (But he lived a lot longer.)

    Beyond prehistoric times… let’s see is Steve Martin still funny? Eddie Murphy? At least they haven’t disgraced themselves as far as I know.

    “Edgey” comedy is so dependent on cultural standards, which it plays a role in shifting when it becomes popular, that it’s no real wonder people flame out doing that.

  7. says

    I think Jesse Gender’s take on this whole mess is pretty decent:

    That’s nearly an hour long, so in summary:
    – The transphobic things he said seem to have been spoken in ignorance, not malice. He’s not arguing in bad faith.
    – It’s kind of odd that he isn’t more aware of these issues (not just trans ones; he seemed not to eve know what “punching down” is — really? …but that’s more my comment than Jesse’s)
    – However slowly he has been improving on these issues, he at least has been improving. He did also say some very affirming things about trans people (e.g. “Trans women are women”, which goes directly against the “team TERF” position).
    – He still needs to be held accountable for his harmful opinions… but…
    – He shouldn’t be screamed at or “cancelled”; it seems likely that he would listen to reasonable explanations.

    I’m prepared to believe she’s being too generous, but her opinions are at least soundly based in the evidence she presents.

    (Full disclosure: I too am a white trans girl.)

  8. logicalcat says


    That article was great and hit the nail on the head. But also I gotta say…they are hipsters. At least on twitter it seems. A lot of the LGBTQ spaces on twitter are just straight cis gendered white people either making a stink about how great of an ally they are or are straight up pretending with very weird other gendered bullshit. No wonder Chappelle thinks this is all white privilege because thats all he see. Even Contrapoints pointed it out mockingly saying “don’t let your heterosexuality get in the way of your queerness.” Also their behavior is kinda suspect. Marginalized people don’t act the way they do with harassment campaigns that is reminiscent of gamergate.

    Chappelle is wrong but I see where he got the idea. People care way too much what twitter thinks.


    If you got something to say, say it.

  9. says

    @14 logicalcat

    Marginalized people don’t act the way they do with harassment campaigns that is reminiscent of gamergate.

    I have yet to see any evidence at all of an organized harassment campaign created by and for queer people, especially trans. The TERFs like to say that all the time, and getting yelled at on Twitter because you said or did something shitty and got noticed doing it is not a ‘harassment campaign’.

    Anyway, thanks for the compliment, but you mostly sound amazingly ignorant of the boots-on-the-ground situation. Try listening to some trans people, especially trans people of color, and learn better.

    straight up pretending with very weird other gendered bullshit.

    … assuming there’s enough humility left in you to do any learning, if you have already arrogated to yourself the right to decide who’s ‘pretending’ a gender identity.

  10. logicalcat says


    What happened with Contrapoints where they harrassed her, her friends, and harrassed her friends employers was a harrassment campaign. If not then gamergaters never harrassed anyone either.

    Also you failed to explain why Im so ignorant especially since I wasnt talking about boots on the ground. The opposite actiually. Im saying people have a warped view of the lgbtq community because they think what they see online especially twitter is reflective of what happens out on the ground. Its not.

    Also also every member ive met of the lgbtq imcluding myself is someone of color. I live in Miami. White people are pretty rare. I resent the phrase “I suggest you listen to other minorities” becaise ive always ever seen that phrase uttered by white people who are virtue signaling and explicitly do not consider other minorities view points. I do believe you are genuine but just saying to me personaly it comes with baggage. Makes us all seem like a monolith.

    As for twitter im sorry but white cis gendered straight people have in the past pretended to be something they are not for clout and excuse to complain. If youve never encountered this then thats fucking weird. Especially in an environment where its impossible to confirm anything with anonimity. The lgbtq community on twitter is toxic af and thats coming from myself a bi man and others members ive spoken to. And it makes me question their validity because marginalized people dont behave this way. Privleged people do. They act like Karens who figured out how to get away with being Karens.
    Especially since people are pretending that otherkin and shit like that is a real identity. It screams hipster shit. The community is advancing to the point that they are legitimately talking about whether identifying as anything is legit including inanimate objects. They also come up with unique pronouns and then accuse others of misgendering. And im not just talking about gender nuetral “they, them, xe” which im fine with. If this shit has not grown enough to be a problem it will be in time.

    Its like i mentioned in another thread, bigots are quick to use strawmans against us but then some leftists are very determined to make that strawman an actual representation of things. Sorry but feels not genuine.