I Saw Dave Chappelle in Des Moines: The Country Needs Him
Dave Chappelle, who many consider to be one of the greatest comedians of all time, came to Iowa yesterday as part of his 'Untitled' documentary tour.
When I the tickets were released, I bought two within minutes -- one for me and one for my dad (pictured above). There was no way I was going to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of my favorite human beings in my home state, let alone when he's in the midst of captivating controversy.
After a series of specials that aired on Netflix where Chappelle made fun of the transgender community, some from the group decided to speak to the media and share their outrage.
I'd embed a link of the jokes in his article, but I would prefer to keep my job (that's a reference to the world we live in, not Townsquare Media at all). BUT, you can listen to a compilation of the aforementioned acts here.
Per npr.org, several trans comedians spoke to CNN about some of Chappelle's jokes, saying that he was
'punching down' on those with less power and how the comedian continues to 'scapegoat trans people.'
Chappelle is well-aware of the criticism he's facing and has refused to back down. He's not talking about the LGBTQ+ group of people, though. He had this to say prior to making the announcement that he'd be touring:
The media frames it as it's me vs. that community. That's not what it is! Do not blame the LGBTQ for any of this (expletive), this has nothing to do with them. This is about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say. ... I need you to know this -- everyone that I know from that community has been loving and supporting. So, I don't know what all this nonsense is about.
For many, Chappelle's decision to stand up to what is deemed Cancel Culture has been a breath of fresh air -- myself included.
It's one of the many reasons I was so excited to go. Dave is well-known for not giving a damn, and that way of life and thinking can provide a bit of revival in a society that has slowly deteriorated into being a cesspool political division, weak mindedness, and hatred.
Over the summer of 2020, when the world was more-or-less completely shut down, we were unaware of what our future held, and we couldn't collect in masses to console one another, Chappelle came to the rescue in the tiny town he currently lives in: Yellow Springs, Ohio.
He held comedy and music shows, inviting some of the most famous comedians and musicians you've ever heard. That list includes Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Sarah Silverman, David Letterman, Erykah Badu, Michelle Wolf, John Mayer, Common, and more.
These people stayed in and around Dave's home. Of course, every safety measure was taken at the time: Daily tests were provided, guests were required to wear masks and sit 6+ feet apart, the shows were outside, equipment was cleaned religiously, etc.
Chappelle, knowing the gravity of the situation, had a documentary crew film the whole thing.
Over that period of time and in several performances, he spoke on racial injustice, brought $9 million to a small community desperate for economic relief, gave jobs to comedians and other entertainers who were out of work, and provided some joy to a world that was starving for it.
And, because of the controversy surrounding Chappelle, the world didn't get to see this documentary when it could have used it. Like, let's say, a year ago. Companies refused to produce it because this comedian made jokes.
So Dave decided he'd produce it and show the doc himself. Des Moines just happened to be one of the cities he chose to show it in.
I can tell you I am so thankful he did.
This documentary provided solace for me. It made me grateful that the country has recovered in so many ways. It made everything feel as if it had finally come full circle. It made me happy that someone that I adore and look up to went out of his way to do such a thing.
Not only that, but Dave came out and spoke to the audience for 45 minutes. There were moments of self-reflection, thoughts of incredible depth, some foul language, and times where it felt surreal.
I'm also shocked my face and stomach don't hurt from laughing so much and so hard.
In a moment in our country's history where Dave Chappelle could have easily shrunk back into his small town home, said nothing, and kept his gift of comedy and laughter to himself, he didn't. He stood up for himself, his fans, and something deeply, deeply American: Free speech.
Cancel Culture be damned. This world needs Dave Chappelle.