Comedian Flame Monroe, who is a transgender woman, defended fellow comedian Dave Chappelle on Saturday over jokes he made about transgender people in his latest Netflix special, “The Closer.”
Monroe defended Chappelle from criticism of his jokes during an appearance on Saturday’s CNN Newsroom. Though Chappelle targeted multiple groups during his special, CNN host Pamela Brown focused on the comedian’s jokes about transgenderism and gender, asking Monroe if those jokes made the transgender comedian “laugh or cringe.”
“It made me scream out loud laughing because I saw the humor in it. I’m a comedian, I’m a human, and I know who Dave Chappelle is and what Dave Chappelle is. He’s a comedian, so I thought it was funny,” Monroe said. “And some of the things he said, Pam, hear me when I, as a trans person, I did, like ‘ooh,’ but when it’s the truth and it’s funny, it’s just humor. It’s just laughter. We keep missing that.”
“We have to be able to [act] like grown people and stop being so sensitized in this world and be able to take a joke. It’s only a joke. Nobody lost their life,” Monroe added.
The backlash against Chappelle has grown into calls for Netflix to dump the comedian. The backlash has also risen inside the streaming service as a group of transgender employees are planning a walk-out in protest of Chappelle’s latest comedy special. Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos has rebuffed pressure to cancel Chappelle’s special.
Brown continued to press Monroe, asking if the comedian understood people who were offended by some of Chappelle’s jokes.
“I absolutely do not see that side. I absolutely think that people should allow people to do what they do. Dave Chappelle is a comedian, so we’re going to attack Dave Chappelle for talking about gender and transgender, let’s talk about how he destroyed the white community,” Monroe said. “Let’s talk about how he bashed the Jewish community on that show. Let’s talk about all comedians starting with Margaret Cho, who is Asian, who tears up Asians; Jo Koy, who is Filipino, who destroys Filipinos. Whatever nationality you are, Sarah Silverstein who destroys the Jews, Chelsea Handler destroys the Jewish community, but as a joke because if you pick apart who you are first, it’s so much easier for the audience to come with you.”
“I didn’t take any of that to be offensive enough to take down from Netflix. I applaud Netflix for sticking to their guns. I appreciate them for seeing that the world is not just what you want it to be, but the world is what it is,” Monroe continued. “You have to play along, get along to go along. Everybody just don’t want to do that, somebody are already combative and argumentative. I’m not. I’m a happy person.”
Last week, Sarandos doubled down on his company’s support of Chappelle, addressing a group of employees planning to stage a protest against the company on October 20. The Netflix Co-CEO defended comedy as existing to “push boundaries.”
“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles [on] Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” Sarandos wrote in an email. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”