In an interview with WNYC’s “All Of It,” Korean American comedian Joel Kim Booster addressed the joke, in which Chappelle performs a backward, archaic and blatantly racist impression of a Chinese person while taking a jab at trans people.
Chappelle joked that if trans people were born in the wrong body, he could apply the same logic to race. What’s more, Chappelle attempted to mitigate his errors by noting that his wife is Asian.
Booster said he’d originally avoided the subject but ultimately found the whole situation “kind of sad.”
Chappelle is “someone who has been rich for a long time now and no longer has that many interesting things to say, because they’re not really living in the same world you or I are living in, at this point,” he said in the interview.
“It’s kind of sad; I think Chappelle used to have really interesting and prescient things to say about power structures and things like that, and I just don’t think he’s interested in dismantling that anymore,” Booster explained. “At least not from an interesting place, or at least not from beyond his own point of view — which is his right as a comic, I guess, but it felt a little bit, I don’t know, old, when I watched it.”
Many critics are panning Chappelle’s special as tired at best and offensive at worst. Once regarded as a comedian with edgy commentary on pop culture, Chappelle came under fire for taking aim at the subjects of “Leaving Neverland,” two men who accused Michael Jackson of molesting them, as well as members of the LGBTQ community. He also performs a bit backing Louis C.K. despite his sexual misconduct toward women.
Slate’s Inkoo Kang compared watching Chappelle’s special to “dropping in on a rascally uncle who doesn’t know, or doesn’t care, how much he’s disappointing you.”
“Now, his jokes make you wince. The soundness of their logic is as intact as ever, but they’re seldom informed by facts or new perspectives,” she wrote.
And Vanity Fair called the show “stale work from a comedian who was once known for truly boundary-pushing comedy—the kind that actually understood nuance, particularly where famous and powerful men were concerned.”