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David Chappelle Vs. Key and (mostly) Peele in 2017: Game Blouses

I’d like to start off by saying, Dave Chappelle started it.

He came for Key and Peele and he continues to do it in interviews and in his recent comedy special on Netflix. Now either it’s healthy professional jealousy, i.e. Chappelle and Kevin Hart, or it’s coming from a real place.

I think it’s the latter.
However, I’d also like to say, I have been a huge Dave Chappelle fan over the years. So much so, in my college newspaper office, I delightfully annoyed everyone around me quoting from various sketches from his wildly popular “Chappelle Show.” I was depressed when he said no to what would be a wack ass final season that Comedy Central threw together without him. I purchased all seasons of the show, including the wack ass last season, and I’ve only done that for one other series, “Sex and the City.” I was so annoyed with “Girlfriends” work- out-the-kinks season one, I never purchased it. I may go back and complete the set because I adore Tracee Ellis Ross.

Anyway, the point of this post is, these days, I’m conflicted about Dave Chappelle, who he was, who he is now and who I am when I first enjoyed his comedy as a college student, to where I am now, at 35, in a post-Obama, Trumptonian world.

A lot has changed.

In today’s woke world, these are murky, fickle times for a black artist. While political anti-Trump satirists are killing it, folks are arguing since Chappelle’s latest stand up on Netflix (Chappelle ain’t so antiquated to see the coins in streaming), he’s behind the times. He hasn’t grown. Folks weren’t particularly thrilled with his jokes about rape, transgendered people and the LGBT community. And during those moments, I cringed too. Even his jokes about race– where Chappelle originally created a lane of his own, they just didn’t have the same punch. Some say he phoned it in. Some critics from GQ argued that he came out there like a rich guy in his 40s who lives in Ohio, which is exactly what Dave is. Some argued his performance was just want America needed right now, no political correctness, tell it like it is. But it seems like the folks who love the no-holds-barred, say whatever you want brand of comedy are typically white, male, are heterosexual, and able-bodied. No one is saying Dave should become Sinbad (known for a successful clean comedy career), but I wonder. I expected to laugh the way I did as a college student, while watching the special and I was disappointed that I didn’t. Who changed? Him, or me?

It was probably me.
I had the biggest laughs in the first show of two about millennials and about him taking his son to a Kevin Hart show and being a hater about it.

Which brings me to Key and Peele. They were certainly beneficiaries that filled the void post Chappelle, but brought a different, awkward spin on not only racial comedy but pop culture. My favorite skit was about absurd names of athletes during introductions of televised sporting events. But, they were a mirror of the times– here are two bi-racial comedians commenting on the world, pointing out things from their point of view. They were younger, and as Chappelle was to me in college, they had an audience too (current statistics say there are 9 million people who identify as bi-racial in the US not saying all of them watched the show, but just saying the racial and cultural make up of the world is changing and will continue. The browning of the world, and climate change is real, folks). We had a bi-racial commander-in-chief. America collectively thought we were one big happy family. When it came to dealing with race in comedy, Chappelle brought it in a clever, honest way, during a Bush administration we are affectionately remembering these days. Bush the second is mild by today’s standards. He was Tupac, while Key and Peele may have been more like an MC Hammer or a Will Smith. It’s still rap. But it’s happy rap.

It appears that Chappelle was still smarting over the fact that the longer format for sketches was something he had to fight for while Key and Peele were able to do it effortlessly and make it the cornerstone of their show. He even said so during an interview. But instead of being salty that they took the format and ran with it, I think Dave should take comfort  in the fact that sometimes, Key and Peele’s skits were too long and they drained the juice out of it. They may have expanded on Chappelle’s format, but they didn’t necessarily elevate it. Your legacy is still in tact, Dave. Chappelle’s long sketches were solid from beginning to end and never ran out of steam.
But doesn’t this happen to all trailblazers? You fight to make it easier for the folks coming behind you. It just is what it is. Charge it to the game.
I’ve been thinking though.

Moreso about Jordan Peele than Keegan Kay. Peele came out of nowhere and hit us over the head with “Get Out” a new modern, American classic horror film. It was a huge hit and a cultural phenomoneon. Peele took it to another level. Peele made an excellent movie that was both for and not for the white gaze, which makes it even more brilliant.

Chappelle always said white frat boys were the ones who packed his shows and remembered him from the immature, weeded out cult classics like “Halfbaked” or “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” It seemed black folks came along once Chappelle really started heating up on his own show.

So, is it just that simple? Chappelle performs for his core? As a black artist, once black people start liking you en masse, do you have to perform a certain way? Do you need to tailor your content? Who are you really performing for?

I’ll say it, for a lot of Black folks, they’d say they found Key and Peele corny, save for a few skits. So, wouldn’t Chappelle, Key and Peele have more in common than meets the eye? All three were cool black dudes to white folks. Can’t we all just get along and get this money?

In my mind, Peele is winning in today’s times moreso than Chappelle. That’s just clear through the heavy critiques circulating about Chappelle’s specials. In today’s times, it’s to be expected. Social media and the saturation of blogs gives everyone a seat to critique and thinkpiece til their heart’s content, and someone, somewhere will agree or disagree. But it’s unfair, Peele has moved in a completely different direction, movie-making. And while I still break out Dave’s musical documentary “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” right up there with “Wattstax” still totally different balls of wax, different genres, different goals.

I think both movies were total labors of love for each, but Peele came for everyone’s necks. I think “Get Out” was Jordan Peele’s Beyoncé Black Ass Superbowl performance where she introduced “Formation.” No one was ready. Black folks were giddy, white folks were confused. But like Beyoncé, Peele’s film was filled with intelligent references and nods to several issues.

So all in all, my final assessment is my feelings for Dave Chappelle are similar to that of exes I cared about when I was younger. It worked then, we had a good time. I have fond memories and I wish you well, but I don’t really fuck with you like that no more.

Dave Chappelle don’t need me anyway. He’s good. LOL. This was another interesting article asking if we are overdoing it on analyzing Dave Chappelle and making the argument that, what we see and what we’ve been seeing exactly what we get. The culture has shifted.

Dave Chappelle, Please Return to Calm America Down

David Chappelle DVD cover/Comedy Central

I’m so weary.

I’m so upset.

I’m so angry.

The whole Trayvon Martin situation and its ridiculous aftermath has got my pressure up, my sugar up, every thing is just up and tense.

There is so much ignorance spreading, and what kills me the most is people being called out for spouting racist garbage on the internet and television are trying to back pedal and call it everything else than what it truly is.

As hateful as they were, previous generations were honest, out and didn’t try to clean up what they said.  Angry white people just said plain and simple they don’t like black people. They don’t want to know em, they don’t want to be friends with em, they don’t want to worship with em, they are obviously less than human in their opinion.

Don’t get it twisted. apparently people still feel the same way and in this new day where a biracial man is president; under the guise of free speech, all of this direct/indirect talk of whether someone looks suspicious and probably deserves to be stopped, detained and killed and just happens to be black and male, is suggested and accepted. It’s also accepted to throw into the mix whether or not a dead kid was or wasn’t a stellar student who may or may not have engaged in stupid teen behavior deserves to be dead or shouldn’t be around a gated community anyway.

Then people can plead ignorance later and say they didn’t think it was racist, or what they said was taken out of context.

Black people and most people with a heart are particularly peeved because the man who shot and killed the child has not been arrested even a month later. Period.

People are angry because an unarmed child was profiled and killed and then on top of that, the laws we are supposed to abide by and believe will protect us all equally were supposed to work. It didn’t. People are most incensed by this.

Black folks in America have sadly become accustomed to everyday injustices, accustomed to violence especially involving black children– black males in particular, but this situation was a powder keg. This situation was just. Too much. It was just too blatant.

I wish Dave Chappelle would create a skit to diffuse this shit, because right now, everyone is mad. There are people who are afraid of the coloring and multiculturalization of the world which is well underway and has been happening and they don’t know how to react to it.

The reaction of the police, the Sanford city officials, fellow Americans who agree George Zimmerman was still standing his ground after 911 recordings show he was told not to follow the boy and he did anyway prove the disconnect in the thinking of some of our U.S. citizens when it comes to just even interacting with black people.

People are mad that some people are saying, “wait until more facts come out,” when the facts were there at the crime scene all along. People are mad the boy’s body lay in the morgue for three days as a John Doe, parents not notified (he had a cell phone) and was tested for drugs while the shooter was not tested.

People are mad about a sketchy history of the shooter that went ignored as he is allowed to still be free.  The facts some of these folks are really waiting on are the “facts” floating around about how Trayvon probably was a stereotype implying that his death probably did society a favor.

Two sides to every story. It reminds me of a great episode on a “Different World” where characters Dwayne and Ron were trying to explain a fight they got into with white guys from a rival school who they caught spray painting the words “Ni…” on Ron’s car.

Both groups tell their story, and their perceptions of one another were quite telling as their stories were completely different and littered with stereotypes.

How it ends. I’m a big fan of the cop in the end.

I am afraid for every black man I know.

This must be what it felt like during slavery when at any moment black men were separated from their families, and killed for defiance, killed for just wanting to be free men and nothing more.

This must be what it felt like for mothers and wives and daughters to get news their loved ones were lynched on the way home one evening.

This must be what it felt like for Coretta and Betty and Myrlie when they got the call about Martin, Malcolm and Medgar (they were considered suspicious too by even the FBI, they were always seen wearing suits and ties, no hoodies.).

I want to cry. I think black men are beautiful. When I think of black men I think of my amazing dad, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, close friends. They are the kindest, most gentle wonderful people.

However there are times I have been fearful of ones I didn’t know, walking down the street, or hanging out or being too loud or gathered in large numbers in a parking lot.

I would hate myself for fearing them once I was safely in my car or home, but there was a part of me– the street smart part of me that says you have to trust your instincts and keep it moving because you don’t know what anyone’s motives are. It is a fact black folk in America are more likely to be killed by other black folk. It’s a sad reality. Does this have anything to do with Trayvon?

Yes and no.

Not in terms of the right and wrong of what happened to him, but this statistic and others (including the ridiculous disparities in black males in the U.S. prison system, unemployment) contribute to the fears that compel the George Zimmerman’s of the world to act as he did.

What curious timing of such an event in the history of our nation.

The solution is to not tell our sons stop wearing hoodies. The solution is to not write blogs about how you thought all of the heroic characters in the hunger games should have been “innocent blonde haired blue-eyed” people. The solution isn’t to draw racist cartoons. The solution isn’t to put out a hit on George Zimmerman.

The solution is education, mentorship. The solution lies in reuniting families and instilling values in boys and girls. The solution is responsibility for one’s self, one’s family, one’s greater community and teaching the values of responsibility. Teachers alone can’t do it. Young parents can’t do it, and tired grandparents trying to hold up the slack are struggling to do it.

There is so much wrong. There is misunderstanding, a long-standing history of inequality and injustice and ugliness and economics and there are people of all colors who understand this and empathize and there are some folks who just don’t.

Right now we have our eyes on Trayvon, but what is making this situation so insane is what’s not being said and the fact that this one situation came out of no where and put all of America and our dirty struggle with race on trial.

The world is questioning our laws, our administration of justice for all citizens, stereotypes, fear of black men (including the president).

The rage and disappointment that black Americans have had with the justice system since forever and the confusion and frustration some non-black Americans are having with the current system and where it is heading has been a volitle mixture brewing and stewing.

The Trayvon Martin situation has brought to light the ugly truth that the United States still has a very long way to go. I think all of us to a certain extent drank the kool aid that we became a more evolved society because we voted for a biracial president in large numbers. It was a step, but it didn’t heal all of the pains.

So Trayvon’s murder, the aftermath, the handling of the situation, the ugliness of it all made us look at, what as a nation we have been so desperately trying to show the world we’ve finally defeated, and we failed. We’ve been failing.

The ignorance and hate right now is so loud. We all have to blot it out. Not do anything stupid and further damage our society and hope this is resolved in a fair and just manner.

We have to heal our black men and there’s so many complicated layers to this thing that I will never be able to articulate in one or a million posts. I’m just hurt right now.

I haven’t seen this much blatant racial madness post civil rights since the LA Riots and the O. J. trial.

We are in curious times. Trayvon Martin is not the first and he will most certainly not be the last. We have to hold those in charge and those who are supposed to protect the law accountable. We have the power to vote in Sheriff’s and District Attorneys and as I’ve said over and over, just caring about the presidential election every four years is not enough. You have to know who is running your city,  county, state and your schools and inform yourself about the candidates and vote as best you can for the people who care about the greater good.

To start, I propose that the U.S. government pay Dave Chappelle to put on a three-hour special to be broadcast on every channel, prime time to calm everyone down.

I don’t make light of this situation, but no one can deny through his humor, he opened doors in terms of making people talk openly, with their guards down about race than any organization. I’m sorry. That’s real.

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