If you haven’t seen Dave Chappelle’s Netflix standup show Sticks & Stones, you should drop everything and watch it — especially if you’re a fan of standup comedy.
Sticks & Stones is everything America has been missing since the Golden Age of comedy in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, and the rest teed up and took swings at every element of society with no holds barred and would do anything — anything — for a laugh.
Those days are long gone, as for the most part today’s comics are more interested in applause from an audience than a laugh — and too many of them are social justice warriors trying to please audiences full of leftists rather than true practitioners of the craft.
It isn’t necessary that a comedian offend everyone he can with a particular joke. It is necessary for him to disregard the question of offense in favor of the question, “Is it funny?”
Because if it is, it doesn’t matter who gets offended. Richard Pryor, perhaps the funniest man who ever lived, didn’t care.
Chappelle isn’t quite Pryor, but he’s more than adequate to carry on that tradition. And in Sticks & Stones he does better than yeoman work satirizing the Jussie Smollett hoax for the comedic gold mine it is.
Chappelle’s intro to the hilarity of the Smollett disaster starts with his reference to the “famous French actor Juicy Smullier,” which most of his audience doesn’t quite pick up on right away. But as they do, more and more begin chortling as he details the elements of Smollett’s fraud perpetrated on the country in pursuit of sympathy and public exposure, with Chappelle’s recognition that the black community was “oddly quiet” about the Smollett controversy for the highly explainable reason that everybody knew Smollett was “clearly lying.”
And of course he was. White rednecks in MAGA hats aren’t lying in wait for gay black men coming out of Subway restaurants at 2 a.m. in January in Chicago when it’s 15 degrees below zero. It isn’t just Black America who can spot that as ridiculous. It just takes a Dave Chappelle to make it hilarious by abandoning “Jussie” for “Juicy.”
So there is now a cultural norm for the perpetrators of hate-crime hoaxes, particularly when those are directed at regular-ordinary America, to be referred to as “juicy.” Thank you, Mr. Chappelle.
And that brings us to New Orleans, where a burgeoning Juicy scandal blew up on Thursday with a police report that offers us most of the Juicy Smullier scandal without the paid-for violence.
You probably heard the beginning of this mess, which was that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees appeared in a video on behalf of the Christian organization Focus on the Family to promote its “Bring your bible to school day” event on October 2. That seemed a fairly innocuous thing for Brees to have done as a Christian, but for some reason it turned into a controversy.
Immediately the gay lobby launched into Brees, informing him that Focus on the Family was an “anti-LGBTQ” organization for having been involved in presenting the option for Christians with homosexual tendencies to undergo therapy — something that might or might not be a good idea. Brees posted a laudable video to the effect that he had nothing to do with any of that and wasn’t opposed to anyone based on their lifestyle; all he was after was encouraging Christian kids to live out their faith.
That’s when our story gets fun.
WWL is the 50,000-watt blowtorch radio station out of New Orleans that serves as the flagship of the Saints’ radio network. Which means the station is invested in promoting Brees, the city’s most popular citizen.
But one of WWL’s sports radio hosts was Seth Dunlap, who is openly gay but nevertheless progressed from sales representative to on-air talent based on his abilities. Dunlap answered Brees’ video with an open letter attacking the Saints’ quarterback as “hurtful” to the LGBTQ position for having associated with the “hate group” Focus on the Family, and going further into a social-justice-warrior diatribe.
This after a left-wing blog called Big Easy Magazine posted a long screed screaming about Focus on the Family and its supposed pray-away-the-gay advocacy. Which almost nobody in New Orleans gave a fig about, so Dunlap’s agitation went nowhere, and in fact the station’s listeners, who as Saints fans were a whole lot more loyal to Brees than to Dunlap, were pretty clear that he ought to stick to his brief as a sports host.
At that point the controversy was minor, and going nowhere. Then it got nice and juicy.
Dunlap was on Twitter pushing his line about how unfriendly the territory is for a sports journalist who’s openly gay, and then lo and behold someone posted, using the WWL Radio Twitter account, a tweet that said “that you’re a fag.”
And from there, the full treatment began.
“Living as an openly gay man can be difficult. Living as an openly gay man in the Deep South is even more difficult,” came a statement from Dunlap. “Living as an openly gay man in the Deep South with a career in sports broadcasting, a career field that is traditionally highly homophobic, is incomprehensibly challenging. While I had developed emotional armor throughout my life, that armor was shattered earlier this week when my sexuality became the focus of local and national news headlines as a result of a hateful and homophobic Twitter attack from the official Twitter account of my employer.”
But a couple of weeks later, after what appear to be some relatively juicy negotiations between Dunlap and WWL’s management, things got quite interesting. Namely, the news broke Thursday that Dunlap was implicated in an incident report by the New Orleans Police Department as things got worse and worse amid the investigation of that tweet:
WWL Radio officials believe the homophobic slur tweeted from the station’s official account to talk show host Seth Dunlap earlier this month was sent from Dunlap’s personal cellphone, according to a New Orleans Police Department report.
The station also has accused Dunlap, who is 35 and openly gay, of threatening the station that he would go “scorched earth” over the tweet and demanding more than $1.8 million in compensation while he was facing personal financial troubles, said the police report, which was obtained Thursday through a public records request.
The police report, which summarizes allegations leveled by WWL Senior Vice President Kevin Cassidy and attorneys for the station’s corporate parent, Pennsylvania-based Entercom, suggested law enforcement was still working to corroborate the station’s allegations.
It turns out that Dunlap had several debts headed for collection, was in financial trouble, and acted in a way directly suggestive of an intent to stick WWL for that $1.8 million or whatever fraction of that number he could get while playing the social-justice victim on the way to a better gig in a bigger market (where his gay-activist narrative would be more accepted by the local audience).
None of which was much of a surprise. Everyone who followed this was thinking it was a Jussie — or Juicy — scandal just waiting to be exposed.
And of course it was.
At this point the only prudent course is just to assume when these things surface, they’re hoaxes.
Dunlap hasn’t admitted the obvious to date. Perhaps he never will. But what’s likely is he’ll fade away now that he’s been exposed. Or, if he doesn’t, we’ll know how far down the rabbit hole we are as a society. Our grandparents would have known how to handle this — whether or not we do is a good question.
As a quick addendum to the current foray into filling this space, I ought to make the reader aware that I don’t just engage in rhetorical exercise on current events here at the Spectator. In fact, I’ve got a novel that this week made its debut on Amazon in both e-book and paperback formats, and so far the reviews are pretty good. You might actually want to check it out.
It’s set in a world not the same as ours but not dissimilar, and it’s a story of civilization versus barbarism, love versus hate, and freedom versus tyranny. Click here for more and to order it if you choose.