For the last couple of weeks, I have debated writing about Dave Chappelle’s ‘The Closer’ Stand-up comedy act featured on Netflix recently. It has gained some negative attention, as Chappelle stated it would. Generally, I wouldn’t write about this type of thing that could potentially disrupt any relations I have with others, but I also feel quite strongly about this one.
Because if you’re watching a comedy act, it’s sometimes important to remain objective, while remembering that every opinion and perception is subjective.
It seems that some believe that Chappelle is against the LGBTQ community, hates women, is racist against white people, and so on.
Anyone who watches comedy knows that it is generally filled with adult humor, racist humor, sexist humor, agist humor, gender humor, sexuality humor, etc. Does that mean that humans are immature baboons? Well, maybe, but making light of all that is dark is oftentimes an opening toward comfort and we fear what we don’t fully understand- or what is still in the dark?
I think that Chappelle sees something about society that the majority may not and that is that: it is worth it to say what you actually wonder and worry about than to sit as a tight-lipped victim who never attempted rocking the boat for a better day.
There are numerous ways to make waves of change and none of them are necessarily wrong. Being open and direct and even turning it into humor is quite useful in making it comfortable enough to talk about in the first place. It opens up a door that was previously closed and even taboo. Who said it had to remain shut? Who said it had to be taboo? Who’s making the rules? Why shouldn’t anyone create a space to bring awareness toward other’s fears so that one day, they’re no longer fears?
In fact, comedy and jokes give me an opening to explain some of the hardships I’ve experienced to those that haven’t experienced them. Conversely, it allows me to understand, in the best way that I can, other things that some groups or individuals have been through that I haven’t. Sometimes, it’s even possible that I can’t.
For example, I’ll never truly understand what it is like to be transgender or a heterosexual, black comedian. I can, however, take an opportunity to get to know them and empathize. This only works when both people are open, receptive, listening without thinking up arguing points, feeling compassion for the other, and allowing this understanding to transpire in an authentic way. It doesn’t work if either party is resentful, defensive, mistrusting, or believing themselves to be a victim by default.
I remember when I was a child, someone told me, “if someone makes fun of you or mocks you, you just need to laugh with them. That way, they have no power over you. When they realize you’re laughing too, they no longer feel superior. Realize the things you’re insecure about are actually just things that make you unique and we all have uniqueness. The sooner you use your weaknesses as strengths, you’ll sooner be untouchable.”
This had so much of an impact on me at such a young age that I actually still frequently remind myself of these words and how much it has helped me to adapt and find my confidence in the things that set me apart. I even practice this same type of motivation with my own two children. Now, they refer back to it when confronted with any meanness directed at them as unique individuals.
When I could be offended by a joke directed at women, white people, and various other groups I could categorize myself into, I make a conscious decision to laugh instead. I could be angry and write a hateful, misdirected blog about those negative emotions I’ve allowed to penetrate my pride and ego. I’ve even been guilty of such antics in the past, but eventually, I realized it didn’t help me out. I would refer to myself as being a “super passionate” person.
At this point in life, I’ve began to understand that life is better when I don’t allow my passions to turn into wars and that it’s better to role with the waves, even when you feel they’re coming down on you. (Perhaps they’re not trying to come down you, but do consequently cause temporary discomfort that eventually sweeps you out into better seas.)
I honestly believe that there is real bravery in being a comedian. We all think shameful thoughts sometimes. We all have fleeting judgments we make upon others. We all experience curiosity and wonder about people and things we’re not accustomed to. We’ve all said something terrible to our friends, (probably because we thought it was funny) but we know we only said it because that friend isn’t going to judge us— they already know we’re not a bad person. We wouldn’t say it to someone who would judge us. But guess who probably would?
A comedian says outrageous, rude things to hundreds, thousands, or millions of other individuals indirectly and they’re good at it! Let’s be honest, just because some of things someone else says without fear of hurting feelings or stepping on toes, doesn’t mean that others don’t think it.
And aren’t both of those things actually okay as long as no one is getting physically hurt? And aren’t all adults responsible for all of their own actions and feelings? Isn’t it okay for people to verbalize their misunderstandings of certain groups to others so that it can be an open discussion that we eventually feel comfortable having amongst currently separated groups?
Aren’t we all just having a human experience?
No matter what you do, someone will always be upset by it, someone will always have something negative to say about you, and someone will always disagree with what you believe— and that’s okay.
Defenses don’t create peace. Peace creates peace.
Remember, peace doesn’t have a look. It doesn’t have a face. It has a vibe. Peace can always recognize peace. Namaste!
Within the Labyrinth,