racial politics and chappelle

After catching the first episode of Chappelle's Show's Lost Episodes, I was pleasantly surprised with what they were able to scrap together, considering the magic of its host displaced. Donnell Rawlings (aka Ashy Larry) and Charlie Murphy did well to do their best in filling in for Dave, although it was evident that there was an emptiness on the stage, even though it was two men replacing one. There is an eeriness that exists watching the segments, in that one can’t help thinking about the incidences that took place that led Chappelle to walk out. And as has been revealed, this theory was dentures (fake like false teeth?... eh, I guess I should leave the slanguage creations to Forty Water).

According to this Times article, many things lead him to disembark on his own pilgrimmage, but it was a sketch about a Black faced Pixie that sparked Chappelle to rethink the route of the show. On the Oprah Winfrey Show, he discussed an unsettling laughter, from a White guy that left him questioning whether or not he was challenging racial stereotypes or merely reinforcing them, during the filming of this sketch. I was actually able to get a hold of the next two "lost" episodes and saw the aforementioned Chappelle's Show sketch. I don't want to tell too much because I think it would be better for each person to see it first before coming to any sort of conclusion. Though, it was interesting for them to have a discourse about the racial representations that have were exhibited, even though some people did have some stupid ass responses.

I just recently watched Spike Lee's film, Bamboozled, for the first time, and I have to say, it came at a very interesting time, especially after the whole Chappelle incident and even more after watching the new sketch. There has been several discussions about the trend of minstrelsy in hip hop, and the perpetuation of "porch monkey" caracatures by certain performers, so this discussion isn't something that is only looked at historically. What Chappelle went through is not unlike the decisions that several characters in Bamboozled had to make regarding the potrayal of race on stage. Chappelle used satire, but at what point did that satire become a tool for exploitation by Comedy Central and Viacom?

If you can't tell, I'm a huge fan of the Dave Chappelle and have been following up on his career religiously ever since I first saw his "Killin Em Softly" stand up. What draws me to his type of comedy is the same reason why Richard Pryor was so important to his generation. Both men create a platform for racial discourse through comedy, by pushing the envelope consiously. And I'm not talking about how Carlos Mencia plays on race(fool is fuckin wack sauce and exploitative). But, questions still have to be asked regarding the represnation of race, especially with comedy. Where does the line of racial comedy get drawn? Are these representations of race challenging stereotypes or reinforcing them? Are white folks laughing too much? And finally, where does Chappelle go from here?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post is on point, mayne.
i agree to the fullest.

July 15, 2006 12:49 PM  
Blogger mark said...

Where does the line of racial comedy get drawn? Right around the block from the Black Eyed Peas.


July 17, 2006 8:44 AM  
Blogger atma brother #1 said...

Nice post man. I thought Dave was HILL-AR-IOUS in the beginning, but I really felt uneasy watching it with non-conscious folk. This is gonna sound really dumb, but it got to the point where I couldn't watch the show without worrying about how it was going to be misinterpreted. I just couldn't enjoy it near the end.

July 23, 2006 6:34 PM  
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