Comedian Dave Chappelle has controversially weighed in on Hollywood’s sexual misconduct crisis in his new Netflix special, calling the allegations against friend Louis CK “funny”.
“I shouldn’t say this but f— it, Louis’s allegations were the only ones that made me laugh,” he says in his special The Bird Revelation, released on Sunday.
“I know it’s terrible, I’m sorry ladies… At the same time, Jesus Christ, I don’t know, they took everything from Louis, it might be disproportionate, I can’t tell.”
A New York Times expose published in November saw five women accuse CK of sexual misconduct, including exposing himself and masturbating in front of them.
CK admitted to the claims in a much derided public apology, and saw a planned release of his indie film I Love You Daddy shelved by distribution company The Orchard. FX, the network who aired his hit series Louie, severed ties with the comedian’s production company Pig Newton, and Netflix announced it had canned his upcoming comedy special.
In his set, Chappelle – who was reportedly paid $US20 million by the streaming giant for the 40-odd minute special – uncomfortably mocks the comedian’s victims.
“One lady said, ‘Louis CK masturbated in front of me, ruined my comedy dreams.’ Word? Well then I dare say madam, you may have never had a dream,” Chappelle quips.
“Come on man, that’s a brittle spirit. This is a grown-ass woman… I hate to say it, [these women] all sound weak,” he adds, before imagining Dr Martin Luther King’s response to CK’s advances.
“One of these women was like, ‘Louis CK was masturbating while I was on the phone with him’,” he continues.
“Bitch, you don’t know how to hang up a phone? How the f— are you going to survive in show business if this is an actual obstacle to your dreams?”
The set, recorded at Los Angeles’ intimate Comedy Store in November, also takes aim at Harvey Weinstein (“The first person that I ever looked at a photograph of and was like, ‘Yeah, he rapes,'” says Chappelle) and his accusers.
“This could have happened to any of us. It could have happened to me,” Chappelle says at one point, before re-enacting a 3am hotel meeting with Weinstein and a 4.30am “wardrobe fitting” at Brett Ratner’s house.
“Everybody gets mad because I say these jokes, but you gotta understand, this is the best time to say them,” the comedian adds by way of disclaimer.
“Now more than ever, we have a responsibility to speak recklessly.”
In a more sober turn, Chappelle – who also courted controversy last year after his Netflix comeback special Spin was accused of being transphobic – brushes away naming-and-shaming culprits as an effective way of instilling cultural change in the industry.
“Ben Affleck tried to help… ‘Oh, you grabbed a titty in ’95!’ ‘Alright fellas, I’m out’,” he says, re-enacting the actor’s very public withdrawal from the issue after speaking out against his former mentor Weinstein.
“Fear does not make a lasting peace… If you keep going after individuals, the system is going to stay intact,” Chappelle says in the set.
“You have to have men on your side. And I’m telling you, you’re gonna have a lot of imperfect allies.”