Dave Chappelle Is Back—But His Transphobic Jokes Are No Laughing Matter

"It had been 12 years—I knew his stuff had been problematic before [and] I was hoping for growth."

Ever since Chappelle Show went off the air, fans have been waiting for Dave Chappelle to make his grand return to the spotlight. His new standup specials, The Age of Spin: Live at the Hollywood Palladium and Deep in the Heart of Texas: Live at Austin City Limits dropped on Netflix on Tuesday.

But many are finding it hard to laugh at his jokes at the expense of the LGBT community.

Among Chappelle's bit was a story about being at a party where a trans girl got drunk and passed out. As trans activist Tiq Milan recounts:

For Chappelle, “Whatever it was, it was definitely a man in a dress.” He moseys over and unassumingly asks, “Is he okay?” He’s admonished for using the wrong pronoun and now is immediately offended. “I support anyone’s right to be who they are inside, but to what degree do I have to participate in your self-image? Why do I have to switch up my pronoun game for this motherfucker?”

In another moment, Chappelle compared being transgender with putting on an argyle sweater and pretending to be white to get a bank loan.


He pushes back at criticism from gay bloggers, though, insisting, “I’m your ally, motherfucker—I ain’t trying to stop gay people. I got better shit to do.”

"I was SALIVATING for the new Chappelle specials," tweeted media commentator April Reign. "It had been 12 years. I knew his stuff had been problematic before [and] I was hoping for growth. But Chappelle's material was homophobic and transphobic and involved rape culture. I've grown too much not to speak up about it now. I was really offended by the transphobic jokes of #DaveChappelle. Hurt actually."

This is not the comic's first time our community: In November, just days before the election, he slammed feminists and LGBT rights advocates in a standup set in New York, saying they’re displacing the conversation about racism in America.

“They should not be having that conversation in front of black people,” he told the audience. “You go ahead and feel something about your rights. But if you’re putting sexism and homophobia and transphobia in front of racism, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

In that same set, Chappelle attacked HB2, saying it was insane that "you need to show your birth certificate to take a dump at a Wal-Mart in North Carolina.” But then he declared he’d rather not stand at a urinal next to “a woman with a dick.”

The New Republic's Eric Sasson complained that, in his new specials, Chappelle "spends an awful lot of time in these specials discussing LGBT issues. They are easily the least funny parts, mostly because they showcase a man who seems stuck in a time warp, hung up about things he really shouldn’t be hung up about."

Comedians have courted obscenity and outrage since the days of Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. Being politically incorrect—or even offensive—has an important place in comedy.

The bigger sin, the unforgivable sin that Chappelle is guilty of, is being unfunny.

h/t: Charlotte Observer