Having fallen far from its great days, Saturday Night Live now typically attracts attention only when a rare nonwoke, actually funny skit goes viral, when the show has a famous guest host, or when it’s involved in some sort of controversy.
This week, it’s the latter two. The wildly popular, anti-woke comedian Dave Chappelle is hosting this week’s episode of SNL, and Chappelle getting the gig has brought about backlash. Very, very stupid backlash.
According to Page Six, the backlash is even coming from inside the house, with some SNL writers reportedly boycotting the episode and refusing to work on it. One SNL writer, Celeste Yim, seemed to imply participation in this boycott, tweeting after the announcement: “I’m trans and non-binary. I use they/them pronouns. Transphobia is murder and it should be condemned.” (I guess “they” can’t take a joke.)
Countless others on social media objected to Chappelle’s SNL appearance:
Far-left media similarly ran many headlines decrying SNL for giving Chappelle its platform.
The controversy over Chappelle hosting the show stems from the past jokes he has made about what he humorously dubbed the “alphabet people” (the LGBT community) and especially the jokes he has made about transgender people. Critics say that the jokes he has made about gender and transgender issues are hateful and bigoted.
But they’re actually just funny.
Yes, Chappelle’s bit comparing the surgically altered genitalia of transgender women, who are born biologically male, to the Impossible Burger was outrageous and shocking — yet no more so than the jokes he made at the expense of just about every other group. The many ways he further poked at the off-limits trans issue were, while admittedly bold and controversial, also not coming from a place of hate.
As I previously wrote in a Washington Examiner review of Chappelle’s special:
“The real saving grace of Chappelle’s routine is that it is not, ultimately, coming from a place of hate or ill-will. He tells a moving story about a transgender comedian he befriended, Daphne, who laughed at all his gay and transgender jokes. He even gave her, an amateur, the opportunity to open for a major event he did in San Francisco. Chappelle fondly recounts the way they connected over their shared love of comedy and how all she ever asked of him was to respect her humanity. ‘Just believe I’m a person and I’m going through it,’ she said to him. ‘I believe you because it takes one to know one,’ he said back. Here’s where the special gets dark. Chappelle recounts how after the release of his controversial special Sticks & Stones in 2019, Daphne stood up for him when he was widely attacked as “transphobic.” But the transgender community turned on her and bullied her viciously online. She killed herself a week later. Chappelle immediately cracks a joke about her suicide. Yes, seriously. But then, he notes that Daphne would have loved that joke and explains that in the aftermath of her death, he started a trust fund for her daughter.”
Does that sound like Dave Chappelle is really “transphobic”? If you define that to mean genuinely hateful against transgender people, the answer is clearly no when you consider his comedy in its full context, rather than taking snippets said in jest at face value.
So, the writers reportedly boycotting Chappelle’s show are doing so for no good reason. That makes this a gross and illiberal attempt to shut down someone they dislike. And it’s a missed opportunity — because they could clearly learn a lot from Chappelle about how to write (and take) a joke.