Damon Wayans is standing by Dave Chappelle amid criticism over his latest Netflix special.
On Monday (Oct. 11), the “My Wife and Kids” comedian spoke to TMZ about The Closer and shared his beliefs that the stand up special has “freed the slaves” aka the comedians who may have been afraid to release certain material or speak on certain subject matters in fear of getting canceled.
“The comedians. We were slaves to PC culture,” Wayans said. “As an artist, he’s Van Gogh with his ear off. He’s trying to tell us, ‘It’s okay.’”
As an artist who has “always been free,” the “Lethal Weapon” actor said that he thinks Chappelle was only exercising his first amendment and admired his friend for courageously showing that he’s not afraid to lose all that he has “for the sake of freedom of speech.”
“You can’t edit yourself,” Wayans told the outlet. “Comedians … we’re like … Mercedes makes a great car, but they gotta crash a lot of them before they perfect it.”
Chappelle’s The Closer has sparked controversy regarding the star’s jokes about the transgender community since its release last week. In it, he says, “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact.”
The comments have since been met with negative reviews from many, including LBGTQ media advocacy group GLAAD, who called for the show to be pulled from the streaming platform. Wayans, however, believes that people are missing opportunities to hold meaningful conversations about Chappelle’s underlying message.
“I can’t speak about the content of the show. But what I say is there’s a bigger conversation we need to have,” he said. “Someone needs to look us in the eye and say, ‘You’re no longer free in this country. You’re not free to say what you want; you say what we want you to say. Otherwise, we will cancel you.’ That’s the discussion we need to have.”
Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos also released a statement in which he backed Chappelle’s creative expression in The Closer.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him,” he wrote in a statement. “His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date. As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.”
Two months ago, Damon Wayans said he’d want to do a comedian edition of Verzuz alongside Dave.
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