By Juan Calvillo
Dave Chappelle closes out his Netflix series of specials with the intense, genuine and funny final comedy show “The Closer.” Chappelle spends his show trouncing on Detroit, where the special was filmed, COVID-19 and the LGBTQ+ community. He also spends a good amount of time having to explain the intentions of his previous Netflix specials.
Chappelle’s set is not for the faint of heart. His ability to hone in on the comedic aspects of hard topics of discussion is uncanny. His jokes focused on transsexuality are often called out as being transphobic. The new special is already drawing the ire of the LGBTQ+ community and the National Black Justice Coalition for his jokes.
Viewers will have to decide for themselves if the material is said tongue-in-cheek or if the comedian’s jokes are meant as harmful and hateful rhetoric.
Chappelle focuses a large part on his views, perspectives and jokes set on trying not to ask for forgiveness from the communities he has insulted. The result is a comedian explaining the meaning behind what the past and the current specials are really all about. He goes into detail talking about a fellow comedian who became a good friend, and happened to be transsexual. This story of course has a comedic aspect to it and is told in an honest way.
Chappelle doesn’t use his friend as a catch all, “I can’t be transphobic, I have transphobic friends” though. Instead he gives the audience a sneak peak into his life. He also goes on to explain a heartfelt connection he created with his friend’s family. His explanation is heartfelt but also takes up a lot of the special’s run time. Chappelle addressing his situation with the trans community has become a bit long in the tooth for his specials.
“The Closer” is filled with laughs and emotion. Very few comedians can do both and weave them together as artfully as Chappelle. From the time he came on the scene, Chappelle has been lauded as one of the greatest comedians of all time. He has proven time and again there is no subject he won’t tackle.
Chappelle is a master at his craft. He will start a joke with an entirely serious look on his face, and with an earnest timber to his voice to draw the audience in. It’s this ability to connect so effortlessly that makes him an amazing performer.
His ability to have an audience rivet to his stories is perfect when he smashes them over the head with the punchline.
Over the course of his career as a stand-up, he has crafted a perfectly playful persona. This allows his jokes to catch people off guard and make them laugh at something they may not entirely agree with.
Unfortunately, times have changed for comedians. This is not the idea that nothing can be joked about or made fun of. That has always been an issue with the perspective many have. Chappelle’s special goes into detail and really tries to have a dialogue with people who have taken offense with his style and jokes.
Comedy is such a difficult genre to critique and review. Stand up comedy even moreso. Where there is space for viewers to love a comedy special, there is also space for them to hate it. “The Closer” is a funny special, showing exactly why Chappelle is the master of his craft. It does take a lot of its run time having the comedian explain his perspective, but it’s very simple.
The fact that he needs to explain and lay bare his comedic intentions is saddening, but the way he does it is brilliant. “The Closer” has a run time of 72 minutes, is rated TV-MA and is streaming now on Netflix.