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In his new Netflix comedy special, Dave Chappelle jokes that one of the five women who accused fellow comedian Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct in a November New York Times article has a “brittle-ass spirit” for alleging that his conduct helped dissuade her from pursuing comedy as a career.
Chappelle addresses the recent spate of sexual harassment and assault allegations in Hollywood in the opening to The Bird Revelation, the second part of his Netflix special Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & the Bird Revelation, which premiered on New Year’s Eve. It was taped in late November at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.
“Here we are, Los Angeles, the real capital of rape and dick breath,” Chappelle tells the audience in his opening remarks. “They got Charlie Rose today … Who’s next, Captain Kangaroo?”
After Chappelle jokes about allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, he addresses sexual misconduct allegations against C.K. Chappelle says the allegations against C.K. — many of which involve him masturbating in front of other women — were a “turning point” for him, because his actions were the only ones in the recent series of allegations that made Chappelle “laugh.”
“It’s terrible, I know, it’s terrible. I’m sorry, ladies, you’re right. You are right,” Chappelle says. “At the same time, you know what I mean, I mean, Jesus Christ, I don’t know, they took everything from Louis, it might be disproportionate, I can’t tell. I can’t tell, this is like where it’s hard to be a man.”
Chappelle continues by addressing the allegations of Abby Schachner, a former comedian who claimed in a November story in the Times that C.K. masturbated while on a phone call with her in 2003. The paper reported that though the comedian apologized, the experience left Schachner “deeply dispirited” and that his conduct was “one of the things that discouraged her from pursuing comedy.”
Chappelle mentions Schachner’s story twice in his sexual harassment bit. “One lady said, ‘Louis C.K. masturbated in front of me, ruined my comedy dreams,'” he says. “Word? Well, then, I dare say, madam, you may have never had a dream. Come on, man, that’s a brittle spirit. That is a brittle-ass spirit, that is too much, this grown-ass woman.”
Chappelle compares the #MeToo movement to COINTELPRO — the 1956-1971 FBI program that investigated suspected members of the Communist Party, the Klu Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party and the Black Panther Party. Chappelle jokes that if C.K. had masturbated in front of civil-rights icon Martin Luther King, he doubts that King would have dropped his “dream.” “Show business is just harder than that,” he continues. “I know that sounds fucked up, I’m not supposed to say that, but one of these ladies was like, ‘Louis C.K .was masturbating while I was on the phone with him.’ Bitch, you don’t know how to hang up a phone? How the fuck are you going to survive in show business if this is an actual obstacle to your dreams?”
Chappelle later says that his goal in ribbing the Louis C.K. accuser is to show that to ultimately make change, a compromise must occur between men and women to change the societal mechanisms behind sexual misconduct. “All the bad guys are scared, and that’s good, but the minute they’re not scared anymore it’ll get worse than it was before. Fear does not make lasting peace. Ask black people.”
Chappelle suggests that Hollywood follow the example of South Africa when it got rid of apartheid in the early 1990s. “The end of apartheid should have been a fucking bloodbath by any metric in human history and it wasn’t. The only reason it wasn’t was because Desmond Tutu and Mandela and all these guys figured out that if a system is corrupt, then the people who adhere to that system and are incentivized by that system are not criminals. They are victims,” he says. He suggests that for the system that prompted the #MeToo movement to be fully exposed is for everyone to come forward with their role in that system.
Chappelle has previously released two other comedy specials on Netflix.
Jan. 1, 3:00 p.m. Updated with more context from the special.
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