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Damon Wayans says Dave Chappelle's highly controversial Netflix special 'freed the slaves,' knocks cancel culture: 'You're no longer free in this country'

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Comedian Damon Wayans says that fellow funnyman Dave Chappelle "freed the slaves" with his recent stand-up special, "The Closer," TMZ reports.

What's 'The Closer?'

Chappelle, 48, has been at the center of a controversy surrounding the special after making jokes about transgenderism and other politically charged hot-button topics.

In response to the outcry, a Netflix executive said that despite hordes of critics calling for the special to be removed from the streaming giant's online library, the sanctity of "artistic freedom" must be preserved.

You can read more about the special here.

What are the details?

Wayans, 61, told TMZ on Monday that he thought Chappelle's Netflix special was nothing short of brilliant.

"I feel like Dave freed the slaves," the comedian and actor said. "Yeah, the comedians. We were slaves to PC culture and he just, you know — as an artist, he's van Gogh. He cut his ear off. He's trying to tell us it's OK."

He added, "I can't speak about the content of the show, but what I say is, there's a bigger conversation we need to have. Someone needs to look us in the eye and go, 'You're no longer free in this country. You're not free to say what you want. You say what we want you to say. Otherwise, we will cancel you.' That's the discussion we should have."

When asked if he feels if he now feels freer to "be a bit more risqué" with his own comedy, the longtime comedian said that he has "always" been free.

"I've always been free — but I just think he's saying, 'You know what? All that I have, I'm not afraid to lose it for the sake of creative freeness of speech,'" Wayans insisted. "You can't edit yourself. Comedians, we're like — Mercedes makes a great car, but you gotta crash a lot of them before they perfect it."

He concluded, "[Chappelle is] a unicorn. He's amazing. He's a van Gogh."

Earlier this week, Netflix co-CEO and chief creative officer Ted Sarandos defended Chappelle's work.

“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him," he said in a memo about the special. "His last special 'Sticks & Stones,' also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date. As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful."

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