Chappelle’s “The Closer” Receives Mixed Reviews


Nick Cosenza, Centurion Staff

Comedian Dave Chappelle released a new Netflix comedy special titled “The Closer” on October 5, 2021. The special is the sixth, and final, edition of a six-part series deal he signed with Netflix in 2016. Chappelle, best known for his stand-up comedy and self-titled, satirical sketch comedy show, is no stranger to backlash.

He has a long history of making controversial jokes, and has often received mixed reactions. The 72-minute comedy special lives up to Chappelle’s controversial standards. He pokes fun at a variety of sensitive topics, spanning from police brutality and racial injustice to HIV and vaccinations. The main target of Chapelle’s jokes in this special were members of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically transgender people.

They remained the butt of his jokes throughout the entire length of the show. The special received widely mixed reviews. Some people felt the special was distasteful and insensitive. Bryonna Trimarco, an 18-yearold early-education major from Southampton, did not find much humor in the special. “I’m a big fan of comedy, so I can appreciate almost any joke, even if it’s at the expense of myself or others.” laughed Trimarco, “But honestly, I didn’t really find ‘The Closer’ particularly funny. He was way over the top with the gay jokes, and they just weren’t funny.”

Not everybody hated it, the negative reviews were met with some positive feedback. 18-year-old psychology major, Carly Kimball, found humor in Chapelle’s jokes. “Comedians poke fun at everybody. Their only goal is to make you laugh.” Kimball said, “Afterall, it was a comedy special. I imagine it’s pretty difficult being a comic in the world we live in today.”

Following the backlash that Netflix received, the Chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, defended the company’s actions of publishing the special. He believes Chappelle is guaranteed the right to “artistic freedom” and comedy should not be censored. Similarly, the family of the late transgender comedian, Daphne Dorman, defends Chappelle’s special. Dorman’s sister recalls that Chappelle is a long-time ally to the LGBTQ+ community and a good friend to her sister.

Trans comedian, Flame Monroe, also defends Chappelle’s comedy, emphasizing how sensitive the world has become. Other comedians, like Mx. Dahlia Belle, believe his jokes are a window into his own intolerance and that his comedy becomes less meaningful when he speaks on topics like these in a disrespectful way.

Comedian Jaye McBride believes his approach was distasteful. She believes jokes about trans people can be funny, even if made by straight people, but not when they come from a place of disrespect like Chappelle’s did. Chappelle responded to the backlash with a willingness to meet with representatives from the trans community, but he warns that he will not bend to anybody’s demands. Chappelle strongly defends his work as a comedian and remains unapologetic about the special.