Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle: Antisemite or Comedian?

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Ah, Dave Chappelle. Back in the news again.

And this time it’s all about something from my own backyard!

As the years go by and I learn new things, and discuss new topics, I can’t help but notice a few guiding principles. Both societal ones and my own personal ones.

Please pardon me while I gather my thoughts together…

Principle #1: Stand Up in the Face of ALL Oppression

Dave Chappelle

It always strikes me as somewhere between disturbing and comical when people listen and keep their mouths completely closed when another groups is under attack, but are up in arms when their own group is the target. I think it should be all or nothing. You can’t pick and choose when to be offended. Especially when it comes to the Jewish people. We are a nation that suffered like no other. And if there’s any take away from that, it should be that we need to stand in the face of oppression and defend the rights of others.

Partly because it’s objectively the right thing to do. But also: When rights are removed from just about anyone, it’s usually not before long that we’re next on the list.

Principle #2: Not Everything is Offensive

That being said, I think it is essential to decide what kind of person you are. Do you wish to live your life being offended by everything you see? Or are you willing to take each moment as its own? It simply can’t be that everything is offensive. The moment everything is offensive, then everything ceases to have meaning.

It’s like that guy from Friends who loved everything. When you love everything, they’re all of equal standing. And the love becomes virtually meaningless.

The same goes for the things in the world you choose to be upset about. If you’re upset about everything, you undermine your own credibility. It is of utmost importance you learn when things are of true import and need to be addressed. If not, leave them be. If yes, attack with full strength until you’ve rid the world of the thing causing the problem.
But it can’t all be equaly bad.

Principle #3: Does their Art Matter?

Dave Chappelle

In addition to being blinded by “attacks” on their own group, I think people are blinded by their appreciation for the offender. So, for example, I didn’t feel any reason to defend a Kanye West when he said stupid things, because I’ve never really cared for his music, and ever since his classic Taylor Swift blunder or his incomprehnsible Joe Rogan interview, I’ve always found him to be an objectionable person.

On the other hand, I think Dave Chappelle is both a likeable individual and an incredibly funny comedian.

I’m aware that these facts muddy my judgment. And I can feel that I have no qualms about chucking Kanye West under the bus, yet I’m quick to defend Chappelle.

Principle #4: Is Comedy Different?

Finally, the big question: Is comedy different?

I think about this all the time, as a lover of humor, and fan of the notion that in comedy, nothing is off the table. If you have a tendency to be bothered by people who stand in front of room and poke fun of things, comedy is not right for you. Seek your entertainment elsewhere. And leave comedy alone so the rest of us can enjoy it in peace.

If you have a tendency to be bothered by people who stand in front of room and poke fun of things, comedy is not right for you. Click To Tweet

Dave Chappelle on Saturday Night Live

Dave Chappelle

With all that on the table, I begin my dive into the wonderful world of Dave Chappelle’s latest appearance on Saturday Night Live.

I don’t watch Saturday Night Live. I think the show has basically become trash in recent years, and my time is better spent on scores of other pursuits. But then I saw my Facebook feed filling up with panicking posts about Dave Chappelle’s latest SNL monologue, and I did what I always do.

I refused to blindly accept the narrative that it was antisemitic. Or that it was offensive.

That’s what most people do nowadays. They hear something is “bad”, and they just happily hop on the bandwagon. They sheepishly run behind a narrative, mindlessly taking statements out of context. Refusing to listen to what was really said, or just as importantly, how it was said.

But that’s not how I roll. I needed to hear his routine for myself.

And I’ll say exactly what so many people don’t want to hear:

I loved his routine.

All of it.

From start to finish.

I even laughed out loud a few times. I played it for my family. They laughed out loud as well.

Dave Chappelle: A Master of Comedy

Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle is a master of comedy. He has a way of making light of complex situations that is both hysterical and thought-provoking. And he does so consistently with grace and precision.

And those who understand both his style and what comedy is all about, get that all situations, big or small, can be poked at. There is little to nothing off the table when it comes to comedy.

But the real trick is about tone and intent.

And we all know the difference, even if scores of people act like there isn’t one. There is a difference between a joke told about a race and a joke told by a racist.

In the former, humor is absolutely possible. Is it a given? No. No humor is ever a given. Comedy is difficult. But when performed by a master, there is no such thing as something that cannot be funny.

But the latter is laden with anger and hatred. It’s not a joke. It’s a statement. And we could all feel it in our bones that something is wrong. Something is being said with bad intentions.

We Need to Laugh More

Dave Chappelle

And it makes many of us uncomfortable. We just want to laugh. We bear no ill-will toward a race, religion, or gender. We will gladly laugh at ourselves alongside of laughing at everyone else as well.

Dave Chappelle is not an antisemite. Nor was his routine antisemitic.

The world is a silly place, one filled with countless reasons to poke fun and tease one another. How could we look internally and not laugh a little? There is more than enough for a solid chuckle!

And we need those laughs. Life is stressful. It behooves us all to see a joke for what it is.

Yes, we need to keep our guard up. We’ve let it down before, and it ended very, very poorly for us. But wisdom is knowing when to point an angry finger, when to sit back and let things be, and when to just let loose, smile, and laugh at the universe’s absurdities.

We owe it to ourselves to learn the difference.

We’ve lost enough. We can’t afford to lose our sense of humor as well!

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