Comedian Dave Chappelle opens up in a new interview about the blurred lines he likes to cross in his comedy.
In Chappelle’s Netflix comedy specials, he takes aim at fellow comedian Louis C.K, who was accused of sexual harassment, and Bill Cosby, who he admits he was conflicted about – even as he faced rape allegations. Since the special aired, Cosby was convicted of rape.
Chappelle believes that his fans want to see a comedian who dares to push the comedic envelope.
“I don’t think people pay money to see a guy speak precisely and carefully,” Chappelle told PBS NewsHour in a new interview Friday night.
“I don’t think they want to pay to see someone worried about the repercussions of what they say.”
As the #MeToo movement took flight, Chappelle came to his friend Louis C.K’s defense and said one accuser had a “brittle spirit.”
Addressing the controversial #MeToo movement was unavoidable as a comedian, Chappelle admits.
“But, as a comedian, that can be a very, very difficult thing not to talk about. As a human, it’s a very difficult thing not to feel, to be indifferent to it. Everywhere you look in America, everyone’s pushing the line in one way or another.”
A Complicated Legacy
Even before his recent Netflix special, Chappelle joked about Cosby in his 2017 special The Age of Spin who he considered as a personal “hero.”
“I’ve never met Bill Cosby, so I’m not defending him. Let’s just remember that he has a valuable legacy that I can’t just throw away,” Chappelle said in his special.
While rape is nothing to joke about he attempted to make light of the situation – a move that rubbed many viewers the wrong way.
“The point is this: He rapes, but he saves,” Chappelle said in the comedy special. “And he saves more than he rapes. But he probably does rape.”
In the PBS interview, Chappelle said after Cosby’s conviction, he saw an accuser crying outside the courtroom and it was heart wrenching even for him.
“Justice was meted out for this woman. And it didn’t look gleeful. You know what I mean?” he said. “Like, it’s tough to see your heroes fall, let alone be a villain. I was explaining to some of my younger family members, like, who he was at one point, juxtaposed to what’s happened now. It’s astounding. And it’s sad, for everybody.”