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'These days, it's a high-stakes game'
As American culture has grown hypersensitive — on both the right and the left — the scope of things people are allowed to say has shrunk.
The move toward an increasingly "woke" society has affected the nation's politics, religion, college campuses, news reporting, and entertainment. And arguably no area in American entertainment has been more negatively impacted than comedy.
Dave Chappelle appears poised to respond to American wokeness with a new Netflix comedy special, "Sticks & Stones."
What's going on?
In this industry where once no cows were sacred, many masters of the craft are lamenting the so-called "snowflakes" who are making their jobs nigh impossible.
Jerry Seinfeld has famously cautioned fellow comics against playing college venues.
John Cleese warned that P.C. culture will lead to 1984 society.
Kevin Hart suffered being made an example of when he lost his gig hosting the Oscars over comments a few people found just too offensive.
And those are just a few.
Now Chappelle is striking back.
Based on a new ad posted Thursday for his special, he doesn't seem to care that liberal media critics don't like his schtick (particularly when it goes after "marginalized groups" like transgenders) and think it's "getting old" — which is how New York Times' Jason Zinoman described Chappelle's act.
Remember, Chappelle is the same guy who mocked the women who were reportedly "victimized" by Louis CK who masturbated in front of them after getting their permission and said that the story made him laugh.
And lest anyone on the right think that his anti-snowflake stance is aimed solely at over-sensitive members of the left, he also praised Michelle Wolf's willingness to go after the president and his administration at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
"And I think that for many people, not everybody who watched it, but for many people it's cathartic to watch that woman speak truth to power like that," Chappelle told "PBS News Hour." "And whether they understand it or not, there was an enormous amount of levity in what she did. But it was very flat-footed, and it was grounded in her truth. And whether I agree with it or not, I gotta respect the artistry. I gotta respect the gangsta."
'This is Dave. He tells jokes for a living.'
The new Netflix ad, voiced by legendary actor Morgan Freeman, reminds viewers that, in today's culture, a willingness to take on the new shibboleths of the American right and left, gay and straight, white and black can make one an outcast — but if that's how it is, so be it.
"This is Dave. He tells jokes for a living," Freeman says as Chappelle walks across a wasteland. "Hopefully, he makes people laugh. But these days, it's a high-stakes game."
"If you say anything, you risk everything," Freeman continues. "But if that's the way it's gotta be, OK, fine. F*** it."
(Content warning: rough language)
Dave Chappelle Netflix Standup Comedy Special Trailer | Sticks & Stoneswww.youtube.com
The new Chappelle special will be available on the platform Aug. 26.
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