Comedian Dave Chappelle’s newest Netflix stand up special, “The Closer,” which he has suggested will be his last, provoked strong angry reactions from the transgender community after Chappelle made them subjects of his comedy.
Since his return to stand up comedy specials, Chappelle has repeatedly sparred with the LGBT community. At one point in his most recent special, Chappelle told the story of his transgender comedian friend who defended him on Twitter after his original special was derided by transgender people. Chappelle explained that his friend faced abuse from the transgender community for defending Chappelle, and took her life soon after.
According to Reclaim the Net, an internal memo written by Netflix’s CEO and obtained by the media reveals the company’s intention to stand behind the successful comedian.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him. His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date,” Sarandos wrote. “As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful,”
He added, “Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles [on] Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line,” Sandaros added.
“Particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace.”
Thus far, Chappelle’s show appears to have been a near unanimous hit among viewers, though it was universally panned by critics.
Critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes include complaints about Chappelle’s wealth, comparisons of the black comedian to a “court jester,” and accusations of “rampant transphobia.” Among the reviewers is The Daily Beast, radical left wing publication, which describes Chappelle’s comedy specil as “a panicked defense of controversial past jokes.” The special only has a 33% rating, according to critics.
Audience reviewers have the opposite opinion. Chappelle’s Netflix special has a 97% positive rating according to people who watched it.
The positive reviews from viewers are also coming in at a staggering rate. At present, fans have written over 1,000 so far and more are being published every few minutes even now, a week after the special was launched.
“Amazing that merely stating the truth is considered controversy,” wrote one user. A second added, “He stands up for comedy in a time where people are afraid to laugh,” and a third declared, “Finally! Real comedy that’s not scared to be funny.”
Perhaps highlighting why some dislike the special, one amateur reviewer wrote, “What Chappelle does better than any other comic, is make you laugh and think, simultaneously. While he takes shots at just about everyone, it is also apparent the man has a good heart, to anyone that actually listens to what he is saying. He is nothing short of a genius.”