Critics have slammed Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special as highly offensive, but the audience loves it

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison

Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special on Netflix is appropriately titled “Sticks and Stones.” In it, the renowned comedian broaches some controversial topics and critics have slammed him for it. But the audience disagrees as “Sticks and Stones” received a 99 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

According to a report from CNBC, many critics perceived Chappelle’s jokes as “tone-deaf and hurtful.” They even questioned whether the special would hurt his career.

Dave Chappelle Netflix
Photo Courtesy of Netflix

In her review, Slate’s Inkoo Kang said Chappelle “rushes to the defense of the people who need it most: celebrities,” while he “sells his self-centered worldview, hard.” He likens Chappelle to “a rascally uncle who doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, how much he’s disappointing you.” 

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Paste’s Garrett Martin wasn’t nearly as diplomatic. He said Chappelle didn’t “give a f**k about  … the people who paid between $70 and $90 (before fees and charges) to see him live.”

“There’s not a joke or any kind of humor behind it — it’s just him venting about people being held accountable for their own words and actions. I guess it’s a brave way to start off a show, if you equate bravery with just acting like an a**hole, “ Martín wrote.

However, viewers and some other culture experts disagree. Brian Hart, president of PR agency Flackable, said while he’s proud of the social change he and his millennial peers have pushed for, people shouldn’t take everything so seriously.

“The Millennial generation, which I’m a part of, has been steadily driving this heightened level of social sensitivity for the past decade … There are hurtful words, phrases and characterizations that needed to be retired, and I’m glad my generation took the lead on removing them from modern dialogue. But if these sensitive young adults are serious about improving society and the world, they need to learn how to take a joke,” Hart told CNBC.

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Entrepreneur Patrick Bet-David said Dave Chappelle’s latest special shows he’s “an absolute genius.”

Another user identified as Rubyn Warren II drew comparisons between Dave Chappelle’s “Sticks and Stones” and ”Family Guy.”

In Chappelle’s special, no one is exempt from being roasted. He talks about the LGBTQ community, sexual assault accusers, school shooters, drug addicts, white people, Asians and more. He reminds the audience that his wife is Asian, however, his critics don’t think it makes his jokes any less disrespectful.

Did Chappelle cross the line with his jokes or did he – in his brilliant, signature way – make viewers think? Clearly there’s a divide between professional critics and audience viewers when it comes to answering that question.

Annother viewer, identified on Twitter as Michalae Johnson said today’s generation needs a thicker skin.