Joe Rogan defended his friend Dave Chappelle amid the controversy surrounding his new comedy special The Closer on the latest episode of the podcaster’s The Joe Rogan Experience.
Chappelle has been accused of being transphobic by the LGBTQ community and the streaming service’s transgender employees over the special, which includes jokes where Chappelle mocked trans peoples’ genitals and proclaimed himself a TERF (a trans-exclusionary radical feminist).
However, Rogan said the uproar toward Chappelle is misguided, “He’s not a homophobic or transphobic person. He makes fun of himself.”
“Look, it’s fun. It’s just making jokes. That doesn’t mean hate. This is the problem with today: If you don’t have an enemy, you make an enemy. And this is a real problem with people. We look for things,” Rogan added. “When you start equating jokes with real feelings, they’re not the same thing… These ideas that you can’t make fun of are dangerous, they’re not good for anybody. The idea that no fun could be had about any of this is crazy, because then the idea is that all fun is done maliciously and out of hate, and we know as friends, that’s not true.”
Rogan also criticized efforts to have the special removed from Netflix. “Look, he’s clearly the most popular comedian on planet Earth, he’s number one. He’s clearly one of the greatest comedians who ever lived, clearly,” Rogan said. “So, obviously a lot of fucking people like him. So what you want is people to not have access to him, when you have options: You don’t have to like it, but you want Netflix to take it down, this is an incorrect way to do this.”
A walkout over the special by transgender Netflix employees and allies is scheduled for Wednesday outside Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters.
“We shouldn’t have to show up quarterly/annually to push back against harmful content that negatively impacts vulnerable communities,” organizer Ashlee Marie Preston wrote in a social media post (via Reuters). “Instead, we aim to use this moment to shift the social ecology around what Netflix leadership deems ethical entertainment.” (One of the organizing employees, a pregnant black person, was subsequently fired for reportedly leaking internal metrics about The Closer.)
On Tuesday, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos apologized over the company’s initial handling of The Closer — “Obviously, I screwed up that internal communication” — but reiterated that the special doesn’t cross the line where it would “translate to real-world harm.”
Rogan also cautioned about taking Chappelle’s comedy too seriously. “If you get down to Dave Chappelle’s real feelings, he’s a lovely person. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. He loves everybody. He’s not a hateful soul,” Rogan said. “He’s just a guy who loves this art form called stand-up comedy and he tries to do his best navigating through this world of talking shit about things and saying outrageous things that get huge laughs, or placating really sensitive groups that feel like they’re in a protected class, and then the other people that pile onto that, that also feel like this is a protected class. And they equate any jokes with hate, and this is where they’re wrong. I’m telling you that Dave Chappelle doesn’t hate anyone or anything. He’s not that person. His jokes are just that: Jokes.”
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