Cancel Culture can intimidate a comic in more ways than one.
It pores over past jokes, even those uttered decades ago, to find the one gag that will derail a career. Social justice scolds, the Cancel Culture shock troops, scour social media, too, to find inappropriate quips.
Even sharing the stage with a “problematic” comic can be “problematic” to the Cancel Culture crowd. And, to be sure, many journalists belong to said crowd.
This week, comedian John Mulaney performed in Columbus, Ohio as part of his “From Scratch” tour. Mulaney’s profile is on the rise, though his material is generally mainstream and apolitical. His recent Netflix specials, including “Kid Gorgeous” and “The Comeback Kid,” amplified that star power.
Columbus happens to be Dave Chappelle’s home town, and the Netflix superstar hopped on stage as part of Mulaney’s show. Imagine arguably the greatest living comedian appearing, unannounced, to share a few wisecracks.
Who could complain? Try Variety, Uproxx, The Wrap and more.
Each covered the event in question because Chappelle told “transphobic” jokes during his set. The Wrap questioned Mulaney’s “nice guy” reputation as a result, even though it didn’t even mention the “transphobic” material in question.
Nor did the other two sites.
Mulaney’s crime? He “condoned” the Chappelle material, as if he were a parent and his wayward child behaved badly at elementary school.
To the Cancel Culture crowd, sharing a stage with a fellow comic means pre-approving every line of his or her material. Or, at the very least, apologizing if the “wrong” joke gets told.
The far-Left Wrap, which fully supports Cancel Culture, used a few cranky Tweets as proof of Mulaney’s thought crime.
“My favorite part of tonight was when dave chappelle ambushed us at the john mulaney show, told a bunch of transphobic jokes, a massive stadium of people laughed, and then john mulaney hugged him at the end,” wrote one user.
Now, here comes the official bullying: “Reps for Mulaney did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.”
They want the Apology Tour from Mulaney. They crave it. And they won’t be happy without it.
The Variety report on the subject confirmed Mulaney went so far as to embrace Chappelle after his opening set.
According to attendees, Chappelle appeared as a surprise opener, and told jokes targeting the transgender community. Mulaney reportedly came onstage and hugged Chappelle at the conclusion of the opening set.
Variety also applied its official bullying measures: “Representatives of Mulaney and Chappelle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.”
Over at the full-on woke Uproxx, they admit the material scored with the crowd but left a microscopic few fuming. Except they don’t refer to this microscopic contingent as microscopic.
The news sites in question seem out of sync with their own readers. Here’s a sampling of reactions from TheWrap.com’s Facebook posting of the story in question.
Imagine going to a John mulaney show and getting angry that Dave freaking chapelle showed up and started performing. Just wow.
News flash all comedians and most Americans condone Dave Chappelles material. Dave is the Goat
Stop trying to censor ART! Its subjective expression. Maybe its supposed to make you uncomfortable.
Uproxx similarly got shellacked on its Facebook page.
Show me on the doll where the joke hurt you.
I love how not a single tweet quotes what he said. Leaving me to believe it’s misinterpreted just like the Netflix special. You know the one where he actually didn’t say anything transphobic but every page kept insisting it was while at the same time not quoting what he actually said….I’m a big stand up comedian fan and all my favorite comedians are black. And every single one of them make jokes about white people. I’ve never got offended and “hurt” by it. People love jokes until it’s one that has some relevance to them.
Absolutely heartbreaking. I can barely believe that a stadium of 12k+ people laughed at a comedian telling jokes. Thank god for the half-dozen or so tweets enlightening us to this tragedy.
So what was the cruel, heartless joke Chappelle told that caused such a kerfuffle?
Several news reports shared a Tweet from someone who claims to have attended the show in question.
“I mean, it wasn’t a gun, it was a knife! A gun that identifies as a knife?”
He then paused, smiled a bit, and moved on quickly.
– The homophobic joke was him saying “maybe you two are gay, I don’t know, nothing wrong with that if that’s the case.”
— Reggie Dill Pickle-May (Not Reggie, Duh) (@FillsAnime) May 21, 2022
This “outrage” arrives at a curious time in the culture.
A few months ago, woke comic Patton Oswalt similarly appeared with Chappelle on stage, but later served up a mealy-mouthed apology via his Instagram account.
More recently, the woke mob has shown signs of sizable weakness.
Netflix not only declared its support for free expression, but it began canceling woke projects from progressives like Meghan Markle and Ibram X. Kendi. The launch of CNN+, brimming with woke personalities, ended less than a month into its run.
Plus, recent cancellation attempts aimed at Chappelle and Joe Rogan appear to have failed.
Hollywood journalists, though, would rather see Cancel Culture alive and well. And they’ll do whatever they can to keep the cultural scourge going.
They may not get their wish if current cultural trends continue.