Trans comedian Julia Scotti on Dave Chappelle: ‘It pains me to have to defend this guy’
Anyone who listens to my show knows how much I love Julia Scotti both as a person and as a comedian.
We've watched her come out as a transgender woman on "America's Got Talent," then Showtime's "More Funny Women of A Certain Age," and saw her reveal her true story in the documentary "Julia Scotti: Funny That Way," which has gotten rave reviews. She just released a new album called "Primal Cuts."
When Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage at the Hollywood Bowl, Julia took to Facebook with her view.
In the past, I’ve made no secret about my feelings for Chappelle, so I won’t rehash them again. This essay is about him being attacked on stage last night and to a lesser extent, what happened to Chris Rock at the Oscars."
Comedy is one of the last bastions for truly Free Speech. Ask any comic if they feel the same way and I would bet that they would agree. One of the reasons people come to see us is that comedians often reflect what the audience is feeling but dare not say aloud.
Sometimes it is risky, but we hope that if we present it in a humorous, absurd way, you will see what we see.
In general, most comedians will adhere to the unwritten rule of “Not Punching Down,” that is, not picking on those who can’t fight back. Chappelle, of course, violates this rule constantly. In fact, just after the attack, he joking referred to his attacker as a trans-man.
Now I’m sure that his lame attempt at humor was an effort to try to diffuse the tension onstage and return to normal. But joking or not, there are some in that audience who will believe that their idol was indeed attacked by a deranged Trans man. I don’t know if the attacker was or wasn’t. I don’t care and neither should Chappelle. What I do care about is this seeming trend toward violent response when someone is unhappy with the comedians’ words.
It pains me to have to defend this guy (Chappelle), but there is a bigger issue here. What does it say about us as a nation when our only response to being dissatisfied with the outcome of an event is to resort to violence?
If an election doesn’t turn out the way we want? Storm the Capitol. Unhappy with certain people trying to pass laws guaranteeing equality? Ridicule them, intimidate them and threaten their families until they acquiesce to your way of thinking. If a comedian says something you don’t like, goad them into responding to your heckles until you can record it and become a social media star, or worse, attack them onstage.
I don’t know what Chappelle’s attacker’s motivation was. I understand that he got quite a beat down from the security people at the venue.
Take a step back from the news and try to see us from a different perspective.
Through my lens at least, it seems that every time something like this happens, we remove another block from the wall that separates us from anarchy and mob rule. It’s sad, really. Very, very sad.
Julia called into my New Jersey 101.5 show and joined a discussion I was having with comedians Mark Riccadonna, who knows Dave Chappelle, Mike Marino, Justin Gonzales, and Danny Braff. You can listen On-Demand starting at 1:10:17
During that conversation, we talked about Chappelle's trans joke after being attacked. I'm guessing he was still reeling from what just happened, so he’s probably thinking about staying in character and saving the show, but after thinking about it more, even with that he should have gone in a different direction.
No reason to respond to an attack by attacking someone who had nothing to do with it.
Hopefully, going forward, comics won’t have to learn what to do in those situations.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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