Dave Chappelle Takes on Fellow Former Comedian Hannah Gadsby

Don’t make me choose

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Dave Chappelle attends the UK premiere of "Dave Chappelle: Untitled" a...
Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Prattle of Wits

Dave Chappelle keeps digging that damn hole he’s in. Following weeks of controversy around his latest special The Closer, in which he spends the last twenty minutes of his set making cutting edge jokes at the expense of trans people such as “what’s the deal with pronouns?” and “all trans people are white,” Chappelle has more shit to say.

In the midst of walkouts and protests at Netflix, the firing of a Black trans employee for allegedly leaking confidential internal information, and a general PR disaster for Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, Chappelle finally felt the need to speak out. In a video posted to his Instagram Monday night, he responded to his critics in front of an audience who seemed more interested in hooting and hollering than actually laughing — probably because nothing he said was that funny.

Chappelle claimed that, contrary to what the media has reported, he was not actually invited to speak with transgender employees at Netflix. “If they had invited me, I would have accepted. Although I am confused about what we would be speaking about,” he said to a quiet arena. “I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office anymore.” I think that last part was supposed to be a punchline.

After griping about the fact that no one wants to release the documentary he made about doing stand-up in a corn field, Chappelle said that he would “not be bending to anybody’s demands.” He continued on, laying out his conditions for meeting with members of the trans community.

“First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing, at a time of my choosing,” he said. “And thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”

In the same “I call it like I sees it” spirit that Chappelle has been using to excuse his bigotry, I will tell the truth here: that’s a good joke. Gadsby isn’t particularly funny, and in fact peddles in the same “just say something the audience agrees with so they make a noise you could confuse with laughter” style of comedy that Chappelle employed in this video.

In fact, the two have lots of similarities in addition to no longer being able to tell a proper joke. They both like to tell stories, they have both “quit” comedy, and both of them seem like they’d really suck the air out of a dinner party. Looking into my crystal ball, I see the worst possible outcome: a Chappelle vs. Gadsby tour where the two comics go head-to-head to confront their differences through some simulacrum of comedy. It would be like a traveling version of Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley if both men had been given lobotomies. I’m not saying I want it, I’m just saying that it would sell tickets like crazy.