Dave Chappelle has long been one of the most prestigious and coveted names in comedy, bursting onto the scene with his Comedy Central series, Chappelle’s Show. Chappelle is African-American, as well as a Muslim, and he historically has not hesitated to take on racial issues in his stand-up and comedy skits. After taking a hiatus of several years, Chappelle is back in the public eye again with his three comedy specials, produced exclusively for Netflix, netting him a pay of $60 million.
In his first stand-up special, The Age of Spin, Chappelle tackles coming to grips with the Bill Cosby allegations, as well as his four previous interactions with a man by the name of The Juice, OJ Simpson. In his discussion of Cosby’s legal trouble, Chappelle shows no fear in tackling the racial aspect of why Bill Cosby’s demise was so upsetting to many Black Americans. He sheds light on the previously discussed topic of idols and role models, and how those idols are so closely intertwined with specific races. Chappelle stated, referring to Cosby, “It would be like if chocolate ice cream, itself, raped 54 people.” The one-liner is multi-layered. The metaphor of chocolate ice cream for Bill Cosby represents not just a racial stereotype, but also the idea among the Black population that Cosby was as legendary as chocolate ice cream. It’s almost as if Chappelle is immune from criticism, or simply does not care, as he spends a good deal of his stand-up lampooning rape and cracking jokes about how much time Cosby spent “raping”.
Chappelle’s interactions with The Juice are hilarious, in my opinion, but also illustrate the loyalty of a race to stand by their idols, despite what they have been accused of doing. The verdict of the Simpson trial thrilled much of Black population of Los Angeles and the United States, as it made up for many years and many cases of discrimination agains their race. Despite their support for Simpson, Chappelle hesitates to take a picture with The Juice, as his career is too “flimsy” to survive a picture with Simpson. Chapelle believes he did it, but does not speak out against him, similar to his position on Cosby, whew he emphasizes that they are “allegations, although it looks very bad.” Simpson and Cosby are just two figures in Chappelle’s stand-up that are discussed, and both represent Black idols who fall from grace, with the Black population hesitant to accept it.