Garrett Morris, one of the original cast members for Saturday Night Live, defended Dave Chappelle’s most recent Netflix special The Closer. Not only did he defend Chappelle, but he took The Hollywood Reporter’s Seth Abramovitch to school.
Morris spoke with Abramovitch about his time on Saturday Night Live for The Hollywood Reporter where he declared that Chappelle’s latest show “was brilliant.”
After describing the show as brilliant Morris and Abramovitch had a brief back and forth with Abramovitch first responding, “You thought so?” Morris replied, “Oh. You didn’t think so.”
Abramovitch then said, “I appreciate him, I respect him. But by the end it upset me.” Morris questioned, “Really? Why?”
The Hollywood Reporter writer explained, “Because I felt he was really going after trans people in a way that —”
Morris then said, “They were going after him. That was a response to something.”
Abramovitch replied, “Well, yeah. I guess I don’t see what people say to him. I’ve only seen what’s in these specials.”
Morris responded, “I got from that: Relax, everybody, this is comedy. Everybody can be the butt of a joke. And why should it be that if we joke about you, it’s sacrilege?”
“You sit in the audience and laugh at jokes about everybody else. If we make a joke about trans [people] or gays, suddenly it’s sacrilege. And that’s what I got from that,” Morris continued.
He then added, “I don’t see what’s wrong with that, with all due respect. I see it as nothing but a man saying publicly, “This is what I do.” And if you can’t understand that this is comedy coming at you, then don’t live in a society that’s multicultural.”
Abramovitch then tried to counter saying, “The reason he cited for walking away from Comedy Central is that he did a blackface sketch, and there was a white guy laughing at it too hard. And it made him uncomfortable. He was like, ‘People are not understanding what I mean.’ Now it seems he’s not understanding what trans people mean.”
Morris reiterated, “Everybody should be able to understand — if you’re a mature human being — everybody can and might be the butt of a joke in a democracy.”
Abramovitch then asked, “And he was very preoccupied with the plumbing, you know? The genitalia, the this and the that. Does it really matter?”
Morris replied, “That’s why Miss [J.K.] Rowling is now in trouble because she said it’s a fact. Gender is a fact. Is it not? I’m asking you. Is it not? Gender is not a fact?”
Abramovitch tacitly admits, “You can’t choose the body you end up with.”
Morris then responded, “I like to think that he didn’t hold back, that he talked the way he felt. And, basically, he was saying that everybody should be what they are. You know?”
He continued, “Look, I was raised partly by a gay uncle, OK? I was raised by a Baptist minister. So by the time I was 12, 13, I knew there was a difference between what was called “the ministers of music” and other people. Live and let’s just live. That’s it.”
“I mean, you might’ve never heard the part he talked about where the trans person who he had as his lead-in committed suicide. And that’s why I think he was angry about what happened to her from her own community. They’re talking about how you can’t be whatever. To me, that makes no sense,” he added.
Morris then praised Chappelle, “I think Dave is a genius, to be honest. He’s a comic genius. I put him on the same level as I put Richard Pryor. But Richard — the laughs were different. He had the ability to make you laugh at something and later on realize he was making a political point.”
“Dave doesn’t do that. Dave has substance going on as he makes you laugh. You are hearing what he’s talking about right in your face. Maybe a bad choice, but that’s a level up anyway. And for me, Richard Pryor is the greatest monologist I’ve ever heard in my life, period,” he concluded.
Abramovitch then changed the subject and asked about the “Racist Word Association Interview” sketch.
Abramovitch isn’t the only person who was upset by Chappelle’s new special.
LGBT lobbying group GLAAD took to Twitter to state, “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree.”
However, the show has an astounding 96% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes refuting GLAAD’s claims.
It also has a solid weighted average of 8.1 on IMDB from 18,426 IMDB users.
GLAAD and Abramovitch weren’t the only ones upset by Chappelle’s special. A number of activists at Netflix staged a walkout to protest the special.
As part of their demands they wanted Netflix to “eliminate references/imagery of Chappelle inside of the workplace, including but not limited to murals, posters, room names, swag.”
They also demanded that Netflix acknowledge that “the special causes harm to the trans community.”
Chappelle responded to those upset by the special in an Instagram post.
In the video Chappelle says, “It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak with the transgender employees at Netflix and I refused. That is not true. If they had invited me I would have accepted it.”
However, he added, “Although, I am confused about what we are speaking about. I said what I said. And boy I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only that can’t go to the office anymore.”
Chappelle then stated, “I want everyone in this audience to know, that even though the media frames this as it’s me versus that community. That is not what it is. Do not blame the LGBTQ community for any of this s***. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say.”
“For the record, and I need you to know this. Everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting. So I don’t know what all of this nonsense is about,” he added.
Chappelle then went on to detail that he made a documentary about his experiences in 2020. He says, “This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States. And some of those invitations I accepted. And when this controversy came out about The Closer they began disinviting from these film festivals.
“And now today not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film. Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix. He’s the only that didn’t cancel me yet,” he asserted.
Chappelle continued, “To the transgender community, I’m more than willing to give you an audience. But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands. And if you want to meet me with I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions.”
He then listed out his conditions, “First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
Chappelle then announced he will be screening the film in 10 cities. Those cities include San Francisco, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Toronto, Cincinnati, Columbus, Atlanta, and New York.
He then stated, “But you cannot have this conversation and exclude my voice from it. That is only fair. You have to answer the question, ‘Am I cancelled or not?’ Then let’s go.”
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