At first, the “woke” progressives put pressure on and created a culture of boycotting and canceling mainstream programs or those enjoyed by middle of the road conservatives — and that was fine. Now, though, entertainers are starting to pay more attention, as demands become more and more strident and calls for censorship loom large. Comedy and comedians have come under fire for making fun of the wrong things — and comedians are beginning to speak out.
Comedian Dave Chappelle won the Mark Twain Prize this week, a prestigious honor for comedians and humor writers. Chappelle took this opportunity to speak out about freedom of speech, particularly when it comes to comedy and the rising “cancel culture” that is impacting all aspects of the entertainment industry.
During the event at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Chappelle was honored with the award, and his acceptance speech included the importance of free speech for all entertainers, particularly comedians.
“(I) don’t get mad at ’em, don’t hate on ’em,” he said while discussing comedians who share jokes the “woke” community frowns upon. “Man, it’s not that serious. The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the First one doesn’t work out.”
This is not the first time the Chappelle Show star has talked about cancel culture and free speech. Long known for poking fun at everything from racism to politics and society, the comedian’s most recent special received significant backlash from progressive critics. Chappelle’s crime? Including jokes about trans people. He further cemented his fate by defending other comedians like Kevin Hart and Louis C.K., both targets of woke outrage.
Chapelle spoke out after the event as well.
“Political correctness has its place,” Chappelle told reporters. “We all want to live in a polite society, we just kind of have to work on the levels of coming to an agreement of what that actually looks like.”
“I, personally, am not afraid of other people’s freedom of expression. I don’t use it as a weapon. It just makes me feel better. And I’m sorry if I hurt anybody,” the comedian added.
The Emmy-award winner is not the only comedian speaking out about free speech. Saturday Night Live, the longest running comedy program, began to hit snags this year when comedians performing were not quite “woke” enough for progressives, resulting in calls for sanctions against performers and boycotts of the show itself.
Programs like Cheers, WKRP and MASH, long off the air, also came under fire this year, despite their decades-old status. The shows are “sexist, racist and even “horrifying” to some woke viewers – chances are calls for permanent bans of these classic programs are not far behind.
As calls for banning programs, restricting speech and censoring comedy become more commonplace, comedians like Chappelle are rising to become unlikely but effective champions of the First Amendment. Hopefully this increased awareness will lead to fewer calls for censorship in the industry.