Comedy Special Review: Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation

Details: Released on Netflix on New Year’s Eve in 2017. Equanimity is a little over an hour-long and The Bird Revelation is a little under an hour long.

Equanimity and The Bird Revelation are the final part that Chappelle agreed to provide Netflix for a record sixty million dollars. I reviewed and enjoyed the last two comedy specials, even though they were obviously performed a substantial amount of time before they aired. This time, we get two shows that are not only immediately relevant to current events, but Bird Revelation is something different from the shows of large, raucous audiences and is instead a more intimate, insightful, but still hilarious show.

If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Chappelle show or any of Chappelle’s stand up, then you know what you’re in for. If not, what you should expect is contemporary, relevant commentary on current and social events that dance the line between being insightful and hilarious. Dave Chappelle is in my mind one of the best, if not the best stand up comic today because of the relevance and nuance of his humor, his observations on controversial issues, and his ability to tell interesting stories no matter the subject matter.

With that said, I definitely don’t agree with everything Chappelle says. I’ve heard it said before that a comedian should tell jokes about stuff they know, about stuff from their own experience. In the past, Chappelle would tell jokes from the perspective of weed smoking, persecuted black man. Since then, Chappelle has become an incredibly wealthy, black celebrity, and his humor has followed his life. Accordingly, the stuff you’re going to hear is from the  perspective of from a rich, famous black guy.

Chappelle talks a lot of the struggle of blacks while remaining fairly dismissive of other demographics. Chappelle even directly addresses this by explicitly saying that he is not racist, sexist or homophobic, but that he finds their situations funny… which is nice to say but in reality still pretty racist, sexist and homophobic. It’s like a white guy cracking a ton of jokes on blacks and then claiming he’s not racist, or that he even has black friends. The white guy may not be racist, but the context of a white guy making fun of blacks will likely never look all that good. The same holds true of Chappelle. He is not gay, trans-gendered or a woman, and yet a lot of his humor makes fun of those groups quite a bit. Chappelle’s perspective is a biased perspective.

Despite this, I can still really enjoy his humor. I can do this because I recognize that this humor is from the perspective of a middle-aged black man who isn’t the president or some high-ranking politician. Chappelle is a comedian. He is going to tell jokes based on what he knows. Like most people, Chappelle’s view are clearly biased. I do not agree with a lot of what he says. But in the context of a black, middle-aged, millionaire, celebrity and comedian, I can understand the context of his views and still enjoy his show. At the very least, Chappelle’s comedy forces us to take a look at subjects that we may turn away from otherwise.

Also worth discussing is Bird Revelation. Bird Revelation is the second show in this two show release by Netflix. Bird Revelation is interesting because it doesn’t take place in a large auditorium. There are maybe twenty to thirty people in a small room and Chappelle slowly performs a comedy show that is a little less polished than what you got in Equanimity. Furthermore, the last twenty or so minutes of Bird Revelation isn’t even really comedy. It’s just Chappelle telling a fairly adult story that is meant as an analogy to his experience at the end of the Chappelle show and his conflict with the executives at Comedy Central. It’s a fascinating bit of standup that isn’t funny, but does a great job showing off Chappelle’s ability just to tell stories.

Overall, I really enjoyed this special and recommend anyone with thick enough skin and of a mature enough age to go watch it. You don’t need to agree with everything Chappelle says. You just need to understand that these jokes are told from the perspective of a rich, famous, middle-aged black man.

Score: 8/10

One thought on “Comedy Special Review: Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation

  1. Katrina Mahoney January 5, 2018 / 6:04 am

    I lovedddd it. Dave Chapelle is so brilliant. I understand where people are coming from with some of his comments, in particular the trans and Weinstein jokes, but I still think it’s important for comedians and all contributors to the Arts to have a broad shield from criticism. Their (oft exaggerated) commentary is an exploration of what is socially acceptable and I think that’s really meaningful. Great analysis.

    Liked by 2 people

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