“Stop that’s gay.”
Dave Chappelle reacted on-stage to mounting evidence that Jussie Smollett orchestrated his own attack.
Already on Thursday, Chappelle was prepared to declare at a stand-up show in Charlotte, North Carolina, that Smollett had made up the whole incident in a bid to keep his role on Fox’s “Empire” TV show. News to that effect had just broken ahead of a flood of follow-up stories.
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According to a reporter on hand at the Belk Theater, Chappelle joked that he was so mad about Smollett’s alleged lies that he wanted to break a dollhouse over the actor’s head – a reference to one of the jokes that recently got fellow comedian Kevin Hart in trouble. This particular line came from a tweet in which Hart said he would take the action to keep his son from becoming gay.
Somewhat protected by a system that disabled everyone’s cellphones, Chappelle said he had been skeptical of Smollett’s story from the beginning despite wanting to believe him. Even Scooby-Doo, he joked, would have questioned the veracity of the actor’s account.
The comedian – who since returning to comedy in 2017, has relished flouting demands that jokes be social justice-friendly – raised a number of questions that conservatives have long been familiar with about Smollett’s account of the Jan. 29 incident outside his Chicago apartment.
Why would a celebrity go get a Subway sandwich at 2 a.m.? On ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, Smollett said he would. But Chappelle thought the actor and musician would probably have people to do that for him.
How does somebody wear both a ski mask and a “Make America Great Again” hat? Smollett denied reports that he had said the men who attacked him were wearing “MAGA” hats. But new reporting about how he allegedly staged the attack has put a red hat back on the scene.
Who carries a rope around with them in Chicago, and why did Smollett still have it around his neck when police responded to his delayed report? Smollett said he hesitated to call the police after being jumped by the two men because he didn’t want to seem weak and that he kept the rope around his neck for evidence. But police reportedly now have proof that Smollett paid for the rope.
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What’re the chances that Smollett’s supposedly bigoted attackers would recognize him from “Empire”? The TV show is chock-full of LGBT people, Chappelle pointed out. The kinds of guys who would attack Smollett for being black and gay would seemingly have a hard time getting through an episode.
Who actually says: “This is ‘MAGA’ country!” and “Aren’t you that faggot ‘Empire’ nigger?” Smollett said his assailants had made those comments and others. But Chappelle said no white person talks like that, even if the comedian himself sometimes does.
The Smollett material, like the set in general, reportedly got some groans from the sold-out crowd, but mostly big laughs and cheers.
Chappelle went on in the hourlong set to explain that he was mad at Smollett for allegedly lying, because it could hurt the credibility of real victims of bigoted violence. Still, between gays and blacks, Chappelle joked, he hoped “the gays” suffered most of the consequences.
The comedian also speculated that Hart, who dropped out of hosting this month’s Oscar Awards because of outcry over his old anti-gay jokes, was probably watching the news about Smollett and laughing. That would be because Hart was roundly criticized as a hypocrite for trying to offer support to Smollett on social media after the attack.
your funniest joke congrats https://t.co/N3JqxaSJMl
— Ira thee Third (@ira) January 30, 2019
If Hart was, in fact, laughing, he had a lot of company on the right.
Returning to the dollhouse tweet, Chappelle said that Hart had “obviously” been joking. He quipped that he had heard all sorts of horror stories from his gay friends about coming out, but none of them were as bad as that.
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Addressing critics of his past transgender jokes, Chappelle said he didn’t want to hurt the feelings of LGBT community, or as he called them, “the alphabet people.” But he added that the only backlash he had actually gotten was “on the internet.” While he’s been told to look out for transgender people bent on revenge, he said, whenever he sees a member of the community, he’s greeted with a friendly “Heyyyy!!!”
Chapelle then told a story about his son befriending a young transgender girl, whom he said everyone, including him, felt the need to protect. But one day, the comedian recalled, his son confessed that he was tired of people always taking the friend’s side in their arguments out of deference to her protected status. Chappelle said he understood the boy’s frustration well, opining that just because someone is LGBT doesn’t make them right about everything.
Chappelle finished the set with a little tragicomedy social commentary, saying: “If I ever get in trouble for the things I say, I’ll say it right now: I’m going to apologize. Just know, I’m not sorry.”
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