• Tristan Acker

Thoughts on the elite but touching spectacle of Chappelle’s Mark Twain Award

I love Chappelle’s work and it’s a treat to see this lavish ceremony where generations of entertainers explicate on the greatness of Dave Chappelle.

Among my favorites were Michael Che and Neal Brennan.

I love Chappelle’s work and always have. From growing up with my stoner friends watching “Half-Baked”, the highs of the Comedy Central show and the thrill of his recent return. I think him getting the Twain award is fitting because like Twain, Chappelle is hilarious in his social insight and socially insightful in his hilarity.

Anyone that follows me on Twitter knows I have been ranting about my various issues with aspects of the post-Chappelle’s Show media narrative. I dislike that the main thing he gets praised for is leaving the money and glory of Chappelle’s Show because he hated the stupid plebes that didn’t get or laugh at his joke the right way, or were the wrong demographic to be laughing at his jokes. It’s a worthy discussion. It’s a fine point to make but the over-emphasis on this narrative in the media to me is an expression for the elite disdain for regular people: they’re gonna use our most beloved cultural heroes to teach us about austerity and deprivation. “You’re not good enough for this good art, the artist was good to reject the proletariat that he is better than, worship the elite celebrity as better than you and heap praise on him precisely BECAUSE he rejects you.” That’s some next-level abuser shit and it’s not Chappelle doing it. It’s the media. Given a mic, Chappelle will just champion comedy and free-speech and that’s fine.

Secondly, I do dislike that the PBS special itself acts like his punching down material of recent years is so transgressive but I appreciate that they paint the whole picture raw as possible (some bleeps notwithstanding).

Over-all it’s wonderful to see your artistic tastes validated, to see what you found socially relevant 15 years ago finally gain mainstream acceptance. The speeches were great, the musical guests were on-point and Dave’s (and some others) celebration of stand-up both at the afterparty and at the DC Improv and the ceremony itself were deeply interesting and touching simultaneously.

Watch this dope presentation from PBS when you have some time to laugh on this long MLK weekend.

Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdculture hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers

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