Maybe it’s time for Dave Chappelle to try some new material.
The comedian’s newest special, “The Dreamer,” debuted on Netflix on Dec. 31, and largely focuses on his early years in entertainment and how he manifested his success. But he floods the first 12 minutes of the set revisiting his favorite target in recent years: Transgender people.
Chappelle opens the special by telling a story about visiting Jim Carrey while he was shooting the 1999 film “Man on the Moon,” where the actor famously went method on set while portraying comedian Andy Kaufman. Dave recalls being “very disappointed” that he spent the day speaking to Carrey pretending to be Kaufman, ending by saying, “That’s how trans people make me feel.”
He then addressed the controversy surrounding his anti-trans material, saying, “If you guys came here to this show tonight thinking that I’m going to make fun of those people again, you’ve come to the wrong show. I’m not fucking with those people anymore. It wasn’t worth the trouble. I ain’t saying shit about them. Maybe three or four times tonight, but that’s it. I’m tired of talking about them. And you want to know why I’m tired of talking about them? Because these people acted like I needed them to be funny. Well, that’s ridiculous. I don’t need you. I got a whole new angle coming. You guys will never see this shit coming. I ain’t doing trans jokes no more.”
He then said he was going to transition to joking about “handicapped” people instead because “they’re not as organized as the gays. And I love punching down.”
A few minutes later, Chappelle revisited the topic, saying, “To be honest with you, I’ve been trying to repair my relationship with the transgender community cause I don’t want them to think that I don’t like them. You know how I’ve been repairing it? I wrote a play. I did. Cause I know that gays love plays. It’s a very sad play, but it’s moving. It’s about a Black transgender woman whose pronoun is, sadly, n***a. It’s a tear-jerker. At the end of the play she dies of loneliness cause white liberals don’t know how to speak to her. It’s sad.”
Later, he quipped, “God forbid I ever go to jail. But if I do, I hope it’s in California. Soon as the judge sentences me, I’ll be like, ‘Before you sentence me, I want the court to know I identify as a woman. Send me to a woman’s jail.’ As soon I get in there, you know what I’mma be doing. ‘Give me your fruit cocktail, bitch, before I knock your motherfucking teeth out. I’m a girl, just like you, bitch. Come here and suck this girl dick I got. Don’t make me explain myself. I’m a girl.’”
Later in the special, Chappelle addressed when he was attacked onstage at the Hollywood Bowl in 2022 by an assailant with a replica gun that could discharge a knife blade. Chappelle recalled trying to diffuse tension after the incident with a joke, telling the audience, “It was a trans man!” But he said it didn’t go over well, given the audience’s response of, “‘Boo. It’s L.A., we like trans people.’”
Chappelle also said the attacker “had a knife that identified as a gun” and “I triggered them because I had done LBGTQ [sic] jokes and it turns out this fella was a ‘B.’” He also joked that, knowing the attacker was bisexual, he “could have been raped.”
Shot at the Lincoln Theatre in Chappelle’s native Washington D.C., “The Dreamer” is the comedian’s seventh standup special exclusive to Netflix.
Chappelle has been under fire over recent years for frequent comments regarding the transgender community, including in his 2021 Netflix special “The Closer.” The controversial material incited Netflix employee walk-outs and protests in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. While Netflix’s Ted Sarandos initially defended the comedian and his right to artistic freedom in a memo distributed among Netflix employees, he later said he “screwed up” in his reaction to the controversy.
A picture of Sarandos and Chappelle smiling together is shown during the credits of “The Dreamer.”