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Review: Dave Chappelle: A Netflix Original

by Tara Kiah - Staff Photographer
Tue, Apr 4th 2017 08:00 pm

 Dave Chappelle's new two- part Netflix comedy special  "Age of Spin" and "Deep in the Heart of Texas" can be summed up using a quote Chappelle said during the special: "I'm like Evil Knievel; I get paid for the attempt, I didn't promise this sh*t would be good." Talk about hitting the nail right on the head.

I grew up watching "The Chappelle Show". I remember watching his show with my high-school friends and all of us not being able to breathe because his jokes were so hilarious. The kind of laughter that makes your face and stomach hurt. There are very few comedians able to make me laugh to the point of tears; Dave Chappelle was consistently one of those comedians for me. So, naturally I highly anticipated his new material. Especially so, given that he has been on a twelve-year hiatus since abruptly quitting The Chappelle Show mid-season in 2005. I wanted so bad to re-experience his invigorating stage presence and his various voices and impressions. 

I'm not sure if I set the bar too high and expected too much from his 12 year return, but Chappelle's new comedy specials are mediocre at best. I say this for two reasons: first, because I didn't laugh once to the point of tears. Second, because I won't be watching either of them again (which is quite telling considering I probably watched every episode of the Chappelle Show over 20 times). 

Sure, Chappelle has always based his jokes around controversial topics such as race, gender, political, and cultural differences but this time it just wasn't funny. I can't decide if it's because he's been so out of touch with the present day or because he has lost his magic, but both specials left me playing on my phone after 20 minutes. 

Don't get me wrong, a few of his jokes were funny and Chappelle is still very good at being the Chappelle we all used to know and love, especially his sound effects. But his overall material is off.

Chappelle used to command the stage. I have fond memories of his prior days when almost everything Chappelle said and did was funny, but this Netflix special really fell flat.  It could be because there were too many rape jokes (and by too many I mean any at all); it could be because Chappelle's obvious stance on equality and human rights is clearly biased to his ethnicity, gender and class; or it might be because self-pity is such an ugly trait—especially when you've put yourself in whatever position you're in. But all I know for sure is that Chappelle needs to find better material, and quick, or this will certainly be his last hurrah. Times have changed. He needs to recognize that in 2017 jokes about the dehumanization of women, the LGBTQ community and diarrhea are just not funny.