In Epilogue: The Punchline, Dave shares a few celebrity encounter stories, does Q&A with the audience and talks about a chat with a trans person named Daphne.
|Screenplay By||Dave Chappelle|
|Genre(s)||Stand Up Comedy|
|Good If You Like||
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Epilogue: The Punchline Plot Summary
Unlike Sticks & Stones, which preludes Epilogue: The Punchline, the structure of this is a bit more loose. A notable portion of it is just Q&A featuring him giving advice to young comedians, playing F***, Marry, Kill, and talking a little bit about politics. Also, he speaks on hanging out with Kamala Harris, meeting Obama before his first term, but the story which you will remember the most might be about Daphne. A trans woman who went to one of Dave’s shows and will leave you with a thought as much as she left him with one.
The Daphne Story
Dave is someone who doesn’t shy from controversy. As noted in Sticks & Stones, he is at that point in his career where he can say as he pleases and even if he got cancelled, he’d survive. He made tens of millions off the series of Netflix specials he has released, is likely still making money off of Chappelle Show, and can tour. Which, as shown by many a comedian, ranging from Kathy Griffin to Aziz Ansari, you can become infamous and still make money. You may have to leave the country or lay low for a bit, but there are ways to make a comeback.
Case in point, trans jokes, since they aren’t politically correct, are a bane in Chappelle’s side. Yet, at a comedy show at The Punch Line in San Francisco, his #MeToo jokes led to a woman walking out, yelling about how she was raped and got Dave a little messed up. Yet, even with a trans woman in the audience, for four of his shows, he made his jokes again and again.
Now, this presents two important things. The first being Dave’s perspective as a comedian and the idea of not censoring himself. For while one could submit that there might be more creative ways to make trans jokes, so comes the question of whether or not circumventing what he really wants to say means there is some sense of shame or fear? Both of which are poison for comedians. Their material and performances require not having either or else they will bomb.
But, alongside being equal opportunity, there is the thing Daphne noted about how, allegedly, Chappelle normalized R. Kelly by making jokes about him. You remember the “Pee On You” sketch, right? Well, so came the question, in Daphne’s mind, isn’t Dave normalizing Trans people by not making them into a taboo subject no one talks about?
Which is a interesting thought. One that, albeit, Dave lets sit, then he jokes about making out and fingering Daphne, but this isn’t like The Bird Revelation. Dave isn’t necessarily working out his thoughts with Epilogue: The Punchline. However, we have to remember comedy is all about making things easier to consume. Not to say I don’t understand how making jokes that could be seen at trans people’s expense isn’t harmful. Yet, you have to understand the point of many of the jokes is to start a dialog.
After all, one of the main points of comedy is getting people to take note of something people aren’t paying attention to. It’s to shake you up and realize something is going on. For Chappelle, in my mind, he wants to point out there is a segment of the population we don’t know all that much about. But, with him bringing something out, maybe saying things which could be ignorant as he explores his curiosity, it opens up the doors for people to follow up. Granted, with trashing him in the process, but comedy, like most professions which require you putting yourself out there, isn’t for the thin-skinned.
The Stories Told, In General
Setting aside the Daphne story, in general, his stories were cool. Whether it was meeting Obama, hanging with Kamala Harris, or meeting Prince Charles. I wouldn’t say he put as much effort into them as his other stories and jokes, but this is noted to be an epilogue so it would be unfair to expect the same thing we get from a full hour set.
On The Fence
The Q&A Section Was Okay
Unfiltered Q&As are generally cringe-worthy. Chappelle, luckily, be it him getting good ones or just the editing, didn’t get a whole lot of bad questions. However, some questions he outright dodged, like when asked how often he writes, and other questions, like what he learned from a comedian which will stay with him for life, aren’t answered directly. He does note how much they raised him and built a community, which included him, but his answer is as roundabout as a politician on a debate stage.
Epilogue: The Punchline Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)
I didn’t know the epilogue existed since, like many, I don’t stick around for the credits. So shout out to some website which trashed Sticks & Stones for being sexist and transphobic and providing free press. For, focusing on Epilogue, I think Chappelle illuminates the point of being a stand up in these times. It’s about taking a complex and controversial idea and normalizing it. Trans people have always existed, but they haven’t been as public as we modernly see. Sexual assault has been known and documented for generations, yet social media would lead you to believe the #MeToo movement was the first of its kind. It wasn’t.
Yet, there is the question of, what comes after? Once #MeToo dies down, will the genders find equality and peace, outside of some outliers? How about Trans people? Now that they are talked about in terms of people like Janet Mock becoming the first this or that, as well as Laverne Cox, not just in terms of murders, what comes after? That is perhaps what Chappelle is pushing here. Also, who comes to a comedy club without the ability to handle something offensive? Never mind one of his shows considering people know what he talks about?
Leading to why the positive label: Epilogue: The Punchline reminds you that comedians are a special kind of people. They are the people who question things, often in a funny way so that conversations can happen and you don’t just rage against them. Also, comedians like Chappelle remind you that there is a vast world out there. One they experienced from being on the road, and in their sets, they bring the rural to the city and the city to the rural. They are the spoon of the proverbial mixing pot and them stirring stuff up isn’t for the sake of controversy but just so the flavors which make up any country can mix and become delicious. But, that can’t be done if no one is willing to bring what makes them, them, or aren’t willing to pull up a seat and dig in.