Dave Chappelle is a comic genius, like Kurt Cobain was a voice to the early 90’s generation, Chappelle is the voice for a generation of people who see the joke and get the punchline. In his sixth special for Netflix “The Closer”, Chappelle takes the viewer and audience for a ride few expected.
Chappelle has outgrown the comedy routine of a black guy making fun of the ghetto, and he has even outgrown doing an impression of Rick James for his highly successful cult classic, The Chappelle Show. Today Dave Chappelle is much more upfront than his younger years, and much more aggressive in challenging his audience.
His Netflix special “The Closer” was a Chappelle inspired view on the issues of gender equality, race, and the ills of social media. The heart of “The Closer” was a thesis on how America has lost its sense of humor and has turned into an angry mob using race, gender, and social media as a way to keep fueling the hate while forgetting the gags that come with comedy and laughing at ourselves. For some it was a step too far.
What critics have said about Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer”
Marlow Stern of the Daily Beast stated that “Over the course of The Closer, which was directed by Emmy-winner Stan Lathan, who’s shot all of Chappelle’s Netflix specials, the comic weighs in on issues of racism, discrimination, sexuality, and gender identity, often finding himself pitting the struggle for Black liberation against the LGBTQ and feminist movements, as he’s done repeatedly in the past… He then clumsily segues into a troubling story about a supposed incident in which he says he beat up a butch lesbian woman for throwing a punch at him (the woman later, he claims, tried to sell the story to TMZ): “I’m glad TMZ didn’t believe that—because I did beat the *** out of her. I’m not gonna lie. It was her fault. I had no choice."
Brian Logan of The Guardian gave the special 2 out of five stars, stating “Rather than explore the blind spots within modern gender and racial thinking, the comedian’s latest special triples down on the phobia.”
While Eric Deggans of NPR, stated “Dave Chappelle does not make it easy.” and that “Sometimes, he does it to make a larger point. But at times, especially during his latest special for Netflix, The Closer, he also seems to have a daredevil's relish for going to dangerous places onstage and eventually winning his audience over — regardless of what he's actually saying.”
Craig Jenkins of Vulture saw the special with a different light, "The Closer wants you to know that Chappelle does not hate the women and queer folks and other minorities he has poked fun at in six stand-up specials. It also wants you to know that he hates having to say this. What it seems the comic wants is license to be an equal-opportunity offender, to have it known that there’s no malice in his jabs. He wants the old thing back — the freedom to be crass without having it reflect negatively on his character."
For some Dave Chappelle’s special “The Closer” will stick out like a sore thumb, to others who have grown up with Chappelle it is the end of a chapter which started in his first special, a six special roster of work which took America from his return, the Trump administration, and cancel culture. To some Dave Chappelle needs to go back to being a kid, for other we’re so glad he’s grown up.