Dave Chappelle‘s latest standup, Sticks & Stones, has gotten a lot of press because of the subject of his jokes, not necessarily the quality. The legendary standup’s latest Netflix hour has a surprise ending and a lot of jokes that have sparked a debate about what’s appropriate to joke about in the first place.
Chappelle said in the special that he didn’t believe those that accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse when they were children. He seemed to directly address Leaving Neverland, a documentary chronicling the abuse claims of two men who say they were sexually abused by Chappelle when they were children. Chappelle called the content of the movie “really nasty sh*t” and also said, “don’t watch it.”
“I don’t believe these motherf*ckers… I don’t think he did it, but you know what? Even if he did do it… you know what I mean? I mean, it’s Michael Jackson. I know more than half the people in this room have been molested in their lives, but it wasn’t no goddamn Michael Jackson, was it? This kid got his dick sucked by the King of Pop. All we get is awkward Thanksgivings for the rest of our lives.”
It’s something that got a lot of attention when the special hit Netflix, especially given how graphic and harrowing the details of the Leaving Neverland documentary were. And according to Deadline, Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed responded to Chappelle’s comments at the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday. He called the comments “repulsive” and said, whether it was a joke or not, Chappelle wasn’t being funny in this case.
“I don’t think Dave Chappelle was very funny or clever to do what he did. You know, mocking kids who were raped by famous people, its like: Is that funny?” Reed said.
“Some people think it’s funny, but I don’t want this film to be positioned as part of the sort of ‘Cancel Culture,’” added the director, whose HBO docuseries investigated the alleged sex abuse of minors by Michael Jackson, at the height of the singer’s career.
Reed said there wasn’t anything in the documentary that demanded Jackson needed to be canceled or that people should stop listening to his music. But his comments about Chappelle certainly make it clear that joking about something as serious and traumatic as this doesn’t fly with Reed.