Dave Chappelle has reclaimed the throne as the “King of Comedy” since his return to the public realm.
In a letter to shareholders, Netflix wrote that out of 17 comedy specials they released in the first quarter of 2017, Chappelle’s reigned supreme.
“Early results are promising; the triumphant return of a comedy legend in Dave Chappelle: Collection 1 was our most viewed comedy special ever. We are also finding this to be true in international markets as well, with comedian Gad Elmaleh’s Gad Gone Wild, a breakout hit in France last quarter.”
The video streaming service has been making a huge investment into stand-up comedy specials. Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said on the earnings call Monday, “There’s always been an interest in stand-up comedy. It was actually back in our early original content days and the red envelope entertainment, it’s all we did was produce original stand-up comedy and acquired documentaries and foreign language films. Always had good luck with it, just on a very small scale. And the format lends itself really well to what we’re doing … it’s uncensored, it’s commercial free, and that allows for a lot of creative freedom. And the fan base for these folks is very big.”
However, for Chappelle, it’s a big win against the insanity of political correctness.
For many, Chappelle was a whiff of nostalgia from his Comedy Central days via “Chappelle Show” where he constantly poked fun at race, culture, and politics. Damon Young argues in GQ that his specials are a relic of a different era.
“I hoped that Chappelle, now entering his mid-40s, would have used his signature slyness and world-weary insights to tackle subjects more daunting than the low-hanging and dated comedic fruit of trans people, rape, and famous black men (O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby) accused of horrific crimes against (mostly) white women,” Young wrote.
What all of these think-pieces lack is that they assume that comedians have an obligation to use their platform to advocate for social justice or economic inequality. While some comedians do use their platform in that manner, that’s a job usually left to a politician.
Comedians are supposed to poke and prod their audience. They try to test the limits of their audience to what they think is funny. Making the unfiltered, politically incorrect jokes that Chappelle delivers would get him shut down at a college campus today.
We need people like Chappelle to speak the truth to us. It’s refreshing to see him get rewarded for that.