In a recent interview with Variety, comedian Wanda Sykes said jokes that Dave Chappelle made concerning people who identify as transgender in his 2021 Grammy-winning comedy special The Closer were "hurtful and damaging."
"I’m not trans, but they have my support, 100 percent. I wanted to find something where I can shine some light on what they’re going through, to show how just stupid and hateful really it is." Sykes said of developing comedy material she developed making fun of laws that say individuals must use bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex.
"I was in a woman’s bathroom one time, and I was like, 'Who would want to come in here anyway? It was like, I kind of want to go check out the men’s room. Sometimes, it’s even cleaner,' And that’s how that whole bit started. I’ve always just been grossed out by bathrooms," she added.
Variety asked if she developed the material to balance out the jokes Chappelle had told.
"Um, I don’t know about balancing it out, because I think what he said was so hurtful and damaging to the trans community, Sykes said. "So yeah, the scale is still tipped, I will say, in their favor. But I know I wanted to say something, because so much has been said on that platform. I definitely want to something on the other side of it.
During his special, which premiered on Netflix in early October 2021, Chapelle said, "They canceled J.K. Rowling. My god."
"Effectually she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as sh*t, they started calling her a Terf," Chapelle said. "I’m Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. 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," Chappelle added.
After its release, NPR's Eric Deggans said, "Too often in The Closer, it just sounds like Chappelle is using white privilege to excuse his own homophobia and transphobia."
Netflix employees staged a walkout over the comedy special on October 20.
Chappelle was also given a list of demands by activists, who said he must apologize. Chappelle refused and said, "I said what I said."
Chappelle added he'd meet with the activists but not under their conditions. He said he wouldn't cave to "anybody's demands" or be "summoned."
Sykes said that she and Chappelle were friends from "way back" but that she has not spoken to him about the issue.
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