Rediscovering the Soviet Art of Telling a Joke

Dave Chappelle, cigarette dangling from his gape, hands a swooning youngish lady in the front row a jangling highball. With a smile: “Bill Cosby says ‘Hello.’” Raucous laughter.

That was just three years ago. And that joke, the most sanguine of the night’s offering, barely registered on the radar of the Woke.

His new Netflix special, “Sticks & Stones,” starts with a febrile naughtiness. Like the hallucinated grin of a friend in whom the mushroom “soup” is taking hold, Chappelle appears a toad planning a practical joke.

Chappelle doesn’t care about your feelings. Indeed. He self-banished the comedy scene for the best part of a decade. Thawing from comedic cryogenesis, he reemerged into a world in which his act is now “controversial.”

He doesn’t care. “Sticks & Stones” resembles the last moments of a dissident who knows the noose is next for him. So, he raises his middle fingers, and laughs.

I won’t spoil it. But it tickled the outrage radar. The Woke, languishing within the sanatorium known as Twitter, now demand he be canceled. Like everything else they don’t like.

In a masterclass of you-can’t-say-that, Chappelle takes aim at “Leaving Neverland,” the documentary in which two of Michael Jackson’s one-time close friends accuse the deceased of sexual abuse.

“I don’t believe these motherf—ers,” was Chappelle’s retort. The controversy!

These are the same comments, in gist, he made back in 2004 when outrage lacked a permanent social media stage.

A heartening study found that, among the general population, a full 80 percent of Americans agreed that “political correctness is a problem in our country.”So, who actually supports political correctness? Those with an interest in the status quo, and their foot soldiers.

Back then, Chappelle’s “For What It’s Worth,” gleefully mocked the same ground. Even suggesting, with larcenous exaggeration, that Michael Jackson’s accusers didn’t appreciate the efforts of “a good host.”

Now, whether that is to your comedic tastes is beyond the point. After all, he has already said it: nobody died.

Why Progressives Despise Satire

But the culture has changed. It has morphed into a perma-flame of anger and offense-taking, grievance-farming, and self-diagnosed victimhood.

Which is what Chappelle is mocking. His act is just that—an act. And it wouldn’t be compelling if not for outrage culture.

Large swathes of “Sticks & Stones” isn’t so much funny as it is gorgeously subversive. He is not allowed to say these things. He does anyway.

Now, the cancel culture demands the end of Chappelle. And for good reason. Totalitarians, whom we will label “progressives” herein, despise satire because it traffics in the truth.

Why? Because an idea is only truly destroyed when reduced to the nub of mockery. Threaded within the giddy exaggerations of satire lies a taint of truth.

Such sardonic japery helped bring down the Soviet Union. Subversive jokes at the time mocked the delusional proclamations of the Communist Party. Before long, its citizens saw the nakedness of their emperors.

Which is why Dave Chappelle is now “controversial.” After all, the belief that scientists missed the other 70 genders borders upon the truly absurd. It is a belief made possible only by enforced threats of social banishment. To point out such absurdities, in a manner both amusing and cutting, strains the threads of political correctness.

Who Supports Political Correctness?

Now, dear reader, I’m willing to bet you don’t know anyone from your real-life who believes Dave Chappelle deserves to lose his livelihood. Perhaps a gaggle of your online friends has expressed a mild rage.

That would be because the “exhausted majority” doesn’t buy into the whims and wails of the Woke.

A heartening study found that, among the general population, a full 80 percent of Americans agreed that “political correctness is a problem in our country.”

Even my generation, and the emerging Generation Z, are not amused—74 percent between the ages of 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24 expressed their discomfort with PC culture.

Strikingly, these numbers hold across racial groups, with whites (79 percent) less likely than Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87 percent), and American Indians (88 percent) to oppose political correctness. Three-quarters of African Americans also agree.

So, who actually supports political correctness? Those with an interest in the status quo, and their foot soldiers.

Researchers found that just 8 percent—the “progressive activists”—were the only tribe to support political correctness, with just 30 percent of them agreeing it was a problem.

These are the kind to shamble across Twitter, demanding Things They Don’t Like Today be canceled; those who dig through timelines, hunting for years-old tweets that may offend their nascent and fluid moral codes.

These are the kind who use identity politics as a defense mechanism against a hyper-competitive world for which they are woefully unprepared. A gross society of which the elite they wish to join, created.

Learn to Take a Joke

Because P.C. culture is the elite’s reserve currency. They might demand “diversity” but their tribe is the most homogenous of all.

Such progressive activists are rich, educated, and white. Twice as likely as the average American to make over $100,000 a year. Three times more likely to have earned a postgraduate degree.

And they quite literally run the country: academia, media, entertainment, corporations—all are teeming with progressive activists.

Which is why it has been verboten, until just recently anyway, to discuss why wages haven’t risen properly in decades; why illegal immigration hurts American workers; why outsourcing middle-class jobs to China has been nothing short of disastrous for all but the elite.

And, of course, why the greatest civilization in history refuses to make babies.

But some refuse to bow in fealty. Jordan Peterson, Tucker Carlson, to name but two.

And, now, I assume, Dave Chappelle, who so far has refused the all-too-common public-shaming rituals of the accused.

It is an encouraging sign. After all, the Potemkin village built with the bricks of political correctness will only come crashing down when enough people decide they can handle an off-color joke. And that the world isn’t beholden to the flux of their feelings.

And, perhaps, that things were better before people got the notion in their craw that being offended constituted an intolerable injustice.

Get the news corporate media won't tell you.

Get caught up on today's must read stores!

By submitting your information, you agree to receive exclusive AG+ content, including special promotions, and agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms. By providing your phone number and checking the box to opt in, you are consenting to receive recurring SMS/MMS messages, including automated texts, to that number from my short code. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help, STOP to end. SMS opt-in will not be sold, rented, or shared.

About Christopher Gage

Christopher Gage is a British political journalist and a founding member of the Gentlemen of the Swig. Subscribe to his Substack, "Oxford Sour."

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GQ)

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.