Dave Chappelle’s New Standup Forces Us to Ask, Are Rape Jokes Funny?

Are rape jokes funny? Should a trigger warning be given? In light of Dave Chappelle's new Netflix specials, we must ask ourselves, can we laugh about rape?

Are rape jokes funny? It’s not my personal question, but it’s a question many of us are pondering and have broached via social media sing Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix standup comedy special was released.

There were some who laughed when Dave Chappelle walked away from his hit Comedy Central show, The Chappelle Show. The comedian and actor walked away from a contract worth $50 million because he was unhappy with the direction the show was taking. The comic just made $60 million for two exclusive Netflix stand up specials.

According to Variety, Chappelle filmed the stand ups in 2015 and 2016, the topics he touched on were all hot button issues in the last two years.

I particularly found the special set in Austin, Texas entertaining mores o than the one set in LA for the simple fact of the demographic. LA is very liberal, diverse even. However, walking onto the stage in Austin, Texas, Dave delivers the line “It’s a tough time for Blacks.” He continues the stand up, with a mostly white audience, and the tries to explain to them why it’s wrong to take from an Asian to appease a gay.

The laughter was sparse, but those of us who belong to races oppressed by white America and its government, understood.

His special both touched on subjects that dominated pop culture and social media at the times they were filmed. One person who probably wishes Dave would have stayed in retirement is Ray Rice. The 2015 stand up spends a lot of time talking about the elevator incident, questioning why she married him after he punched her and more. Chappelle spent a good 15-20 minutes on Ray Rice.

The LGBTQ community may have a bone to pick with Chappelle as well, however, the comic made it abundantly clear that he is an ally. Ally or not, he did make quite a few hilarious gay and transgendered jokes.

While Chappelle was hilarious and offensive both, there’s one sect of society who may feel that Chapelle went too far.

Throughout both hour-long standup specials, Dave cracked joke after joke about Bill Cosby and his alleged rape victims. In one stand up, Dave has the crowd fully invested in a long joke and while they’re waiting for the punchline he suddenly says “and while all this is going on Bill Cosby raped 54 people.” The comic bursts into laughter, the crowd laughs nervously.

It’s just a start. Dave is about to get on a roll. If you think to yourself, “I’ll skip a part and avoid the rape jokes” Nope. Not gonna happen. I won’t spoil the standup for you but I will tell you, if rape and sexual assault are triggers for you, you’re better off not watching.

Bill Cosby is scheduled to go to court for his alleged sexual assault in June. While many had lost focus on the upcoming trial, Chappelle’s standup will no doubt, bring the accusations, rape debates and trial, back in the spotlight.

Chappelle knows his rape jokes offend and even weaves into his rape jokes, the story of a woman who attempted to attack him physically over one of his Bill Cosby jokes. “I’m thinking to myself, I’m gonna have to kick this bitch in the face”, Dave says plainly.

Chappelle delivers a joke that will be the topic of conversations for weeks I’m sure. “He rapes, but he saves, and he saves more than he rapes”, the comic cracks himself up with his own joke.

Have you seen the new Chappelle standups on Netflix? What do you think of it? Are rape jokes funny? I must disclose, I am a victim of sexual assault and I’ve watched each special three times, laughing the whole way through.

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