• Jamie Dixon

The Closer: Dave Chapelle's Trans-Issues Tantrum

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

Dave Chapelle's Mental Health Crisis On Stage

Of course, everyone's talking about Dave Chapelle and The Closer. You love it, you hate it, he's a bigot, he's misunderstood—everyone's got a point of view. A lot of people insist, "You can't judge it if you haven't seen it," which is a fair point.


So I watched it. For the love of God, if you haven't seen it yet, don't let these mutton heads trick you. You're way further ahead admitting you never saw it than sitting through this excruciating thing. It's horrid and nothing's funny. Now that I'm done with it, my stomach hurts.


I thought I'd save you guys some time and basically summarize the plot, and what I was thinking while I saw it. A lot of people are reducing this to the fact that he said "TERF" and it's so much more than that. This isn't a guy saying TERF one time, this is an entire hour of maybe 3 jokes (max) and a lot of bile.


I know this is an opinion piece—I went into it expecting to hate it, and I did. But it's even more awful than I thought. This isn't a self-fulfilling prophecy, because there's no way I could talk myself into imagining how bad it actually was.


The Closer


I kind of knew at the start I needed to walk away. Before you even click play on The Closer, the menu screen tells you all you need to know. The official Netflix description:

"Dave (will)...try and set the record straight - and get a few things off his chest."

Wait, what? Where are the jokes?


Yeah, it turns out this isn't a mistake. Netflix probably didn't want to get sued for false advertising. There's no mention of jokes, mostly cause there aren't any to be found.


Almost right from the start, he announces that he can't imagine how tough life has been for the average American. He recognizes that he's out of touch as a rich famous person. It's a weird setup, but he does at least follow through proving just how out of touch he is for the rest of the special.


He wanders around in circles for most of it. He talks about how he got coronavirus, but there are no jokes. It feels like listening to some worker at the nearby grocery store just casually telling you their experience.


Random things come up but it really doesn't make sense. Like pedophilia. Honestly, maybe he's not out of touch and actually has Covid brain. Has anyone checked into it? There isn't any timeline that joke would have been funny, this isn't an issue of "wokeness."


Most of the time, he's just sort of narrating stories. I kind of think he forgot why he's here. The whole show feels this way, like he's just sort of rambling and keeps forgetting his point. He'll start to build to something and just when you think it's going somewhere, he's lost it again. It's actually very frustrating if you thought you would be entertained at any point.


This guy's only 48. I know, I just checked. This is like listening to my great Uncle Hank talk. Someone better bring this guy a chair before he wanders off stage.


It Gets Bad

Direct quote: "It's gonna get worse than that, hang in there."

I'm entirely certain that isn't possible but okay.


The funniest part is him giving a speech about why he came here tonight. I'm pretty sure he's not actually qualified to answer that because he clearly has no idea. What is wrong with this guy and who was supposed to give him his meds? Honestly, he's rich, there's got to be someone who's in charge of that for him, and I'd like a word.

Now he offers this sort of half-ass, non-apology about coming here to make peace with the LGBTQ community. Not because he's sorry, but because he wants something. I feel like if you're this big of an asshole you need a better personality. Like, he's not even charismatic, this guy is basically a talking potato.


People are cheering at this because they like someone being openly transphobic. They will cheer for aggressively bigoted behavior even if they have to put up with this guy.


He pretends to apologize for like 3 seconds — sort of, but not really. Then, he defends himself because we should try to understand why he said it. This feels like an abuser saying "I mean, you're right, I shouldn't have punched you, but try to see it my way." I still don't get what is going on in this show.


He just randomly announced to everyone that DaBaby has committed a violent crime in the past, and maybe this was common knowledge, but it wasn't to me. I'm really confused now because I thought his point was that we should give this guy another chance, and I don't see how this is helping. Oh shit, now it's a race discussion and I missed the comedy part of this show.


Is This A Breakthrough Or A Breakdown?

There are still no jokes happening, but he admits that he's being mean to gays because he's jealous of them. Again, I can actually kind of see his point, but I almost feel like I'm seeing it better than him. I don't understand how he can be self-aware enough to point it out, but also so completely blind that he misses the obvious follow-up.


Like, just get rid of the gay part—there are two kids and one is really smart or whatever. The other one is jealous, so the jealous one goes around and acts like an ass. That's not an excuse, that's a reason to get a therapist and work out your shit. Honestly, all I'm seeing from this act is that this dude needs some help.


Now it's turned into a whole bunch of examples of him picking fights with gay people and blaming them. I'm incredibly irritated that he's making it out like gay people are violent and threatening. All of these stories come right out and say that he's the one being aggressive. He's telling you so.


But then he's following it up with "watch out for those gays" and asking you to feel sorry for him because they're "so mean" in response. Painting trans people as being aggressive or dangerous is only dangerous to them.


Did you know that trans people are 4X more likely to be assaulted than cis people? Dave has an awful lot of "this time when I beat up a tranny" stories, and I can't believe he's just announcing them so indifferently.


It's Cool Cause He Hates Women Too

At one point he admitted he hated women, then he took it back and said he was a feminist. Except only a feminist for the women he approves of. He doesn't like frumpy dykes. Okay, good to know.


I think for the first time, he finally concludes a thought when he declares he hates both women and feminism because he thinks black women are under-represented. I don't understand how he's always so right and so wrong at the same time, it's the only thing he's done consistently the whole show.


Oh finally, here's a joke. I've been waiting so long I forgot that's what I'm here for. By the way, the joke is impeccable—he's too rich to shop at Walmart. No really, it's as good as it sounds.


This guy literally just said how messed up it is that a guy who wants to move ahead in the world would do evil terrible things to people just to get ahead. But I feel like he doesn't even understand he's actually telling us why he acts the way he does. He's got the biggest blind spot and his subconscious is SCREAMING to be heard at this point.


Actually, I Think He Just Hates Everything

He admits that he's been accused of transphobia for the last 16 years and then just sort of gives it a flippant shrug. He's had 16 years to understand the complaints and 16 years later, he's still just sort of going, "Eh, I don't know why they'd say that, I don't even know what those words mean"—like it's an excuse or something. Buddy, all you're telling us is that you don't care what they said cause you don't have to listen to no damn queer. We get it. You can stop anytime. Please.


Now he's complaining that it's not fair he can't be mean to trans people because it's hard enough not calling 'actual' women ugly—I think. I don't know, it's hard to tell you guys. I'm pretty sure he's telling us that he needs to be mean to women or trans, so we're gonna have to pick.


Okay, bragging again that he's rich. I wish he'd land on whether he hates women, gays, or needs you to know he's rich and famous. The three issues are kind of competing with each other by this point.


He asks us to believe that he's never had a problem with transgender people, even though that's honestly pretty much all he's said for an hour. I hate that he keeps using canceled because the way he's using it doesn't mean anything. If DaBaby lost fans and people stopped listening to him, that's not "canceled." It's "as a celebrity without a fanbase you have no job so stop pissing on your fans."


It's also really annoying that he diminishes JK Rowling as like 'oh she just said this teeny thing, it's barely anything." Because it's a huge spin to put on it. If I didn't know the context I'd be thinking, "Oh my, that is a big overreaction!" But I'm just thinking "Boy this guy is a liar."


The only good thing he's said so far is that he shouldn't speak. Hear, hear.


More transphobic jokes. God, it's really a shame that article 16 years ago called him that or no one would ever catch on.


It's Just Off The Rails By This Point


Finally, we're getting somewhere! He just explained that he can accept you as trans if you worship him and make him your hero. I guess you guys better get on it because this shit is tedious. He's obviously never going to be funny unless the trans people fix his ego issue.


I'm so confused because he keeps openly admitting he's transphobic at this point so how do people defend him and say we aren't listening to him? I mean he's actually saying the words, there's no room for confusion. Clearly, the people sticking up for him are the ones not listening.


He makes a joke about people who sound like they're just sitting there rambling at a TV, which resonates with me incredibly powerfully right now because I've just wasted an hour watching this man do exactly this.


More sort-of relevant content: He tells a parable about when he—sorry, I mean, 'a guy he knows' was being transphobic and the guy is obviously a jerk. But the trans person told the jerk off and Chapelle seems to think that's cool. This is a thinly concealed example of his own bad behavior. So I guess he just wants us all to tell him off, you guys. I'll start.


Sometimes he sounds a little like he's trying to apologize and maybe he just doesn't understand what an apology is or something. It's definitely not this, though.


He keeps wavering between the not-apologizing and reminding us that he's really great. I definitely feel like there are a lot more arguments made for how great he is—I'm clocking him at one half-assed apology for every four mentions of his awesomeness.


He's Allowed To Be Mean To Trans-People, He Met One Once

He discusses a friend named Daphne. Due to a really weird parasocial relationship where he got to be a hero, and she got to be noticed, everyone was a winner for like a week or something. He tries to sell us that he can't be that bad because his friend Daphne idolized him—I mean liked him—and she's trans. So I guess his point is that if one likes him that's really about the same as all of them liking him. Makes sense.


But even when he's saying that she stood up for him so he can't be that awful, he just keeps turning it back to how great he is. This is just Dave Chapelle getting off on how much he loves himself.


Then out of nowhere, he starts making jokes about her suicide, and the rivets have just come flying off this truck from hell. I am in an abysmal hellscape. I can not believe there's any human in this world that would want me to see that.


I guess we're supposed to be okay with him making fun of a dead woman because he gave them some money. That makes him better than trans people probably anyway. I mean who knows what he's trying to say. This guy's just been drooling and spewing bile for an hour and my brain is done at this point.


Now he tells us that empathy isn't gay. It isn't black. If you please, please, just worship him like the hero, he knows himself to be, he might try to do better, or at least be less antagonistic about it.


Please, this weird, rich man needs you to love him so he can act like a human again. Or else he might lose his millions, and can you imagine anything worse than that?


I have my own plea to make: Please get help Dave Chapelle, because nothing happening here is healthy.




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Jamie Dixon is a contributing writer here at The Pyrrhic. She's a content writer by profession, but this is more fun. She's also working on her first novel in her spare time.


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