The headline of Jason Zinoman’s New York Times’ piece on Dave Chappelle says the comedian’s stage act is “getting old” — particularly because his jokes about transgenders demonstrate that he hasn’t “adjusted his material.”
“Adjusted” in what way?
Well, Zinoman points out that Chappelle “making fun of transgender people” is done “so relentlessly that it has become blandly familiar.”
“And the way he pairs this material with constant justifications, explaining how these marginalized groups, which he calls ‘the alphabet people,’ have disproportionate power in Hollywood, is defensive, predictable and ultimately cruel,” Zinoman notes.
And after having witnessed Chappelle do stand-up about a dozen times, the comic’s most recent effort was “subpar” and the first time Zinoman “occasionally felt bored.”
How did readers react to Zinoman’s take?
The majority of “reader picks” comments on Zinoman’s piece skewered the critic. A sampling:
- “Lighten up! It’s comedy! When did certain topics become verboten in comedy? Wonder if Carlin could survive the scrutiny today? Probably not. This over-the-top analysis is over done.”
- “If you can’t laugh at a well-told, deeply offensive joke aimed at you, you’ve misunderstood the cathartic, transformative power of comedy. Eventually, we’re all the butt of the joke.”
- “I have seen DC many times as well, and yes he does say outrageous stuff. He’s a comic. Wake up or stop going to his shoes or get another job.”
- “So, according to this critic, jokes about transgender people should not be permitted. Any other subjects that can’t be joked about? Can we have a list? Political correctness is a scourge on comedy (and on society in general) and I for one am glad that Mr. Chappelle continues to joke about whatever he wants.”
- “Zinoman really fails to realize that comedy itself is a bridge to a
better social understanding of all these topics, IMO. Chappelle made fun
of himself as a black man, as a rich man, as a heterosexual man, and
trying to find the humor in other people’s race, sex, misgivings, etc., is
what good comedic writing is about.”
- “Such preciousness. Nothing is out of bounds in comedy; that’s the point.
If it’s too much for you to suspend disbelief then don’t watch.”