Five of the Last Six Grammys for Best Comedy Album Went to So-Called ‘Cancelled’ Comics
“Cancel culture is killing comedy!” said no one following the Grammys for the last half decade.
At yesterday’s Grammy Awards ceremony, Dave Chappelle won Best Comedy Album for his 2021 Netflix special The Closer, a set that sparked a series of protests, controversies and hysterical headlines following its release — all of which have had a next to negligible impact on the career of the comedian at the center of the cultural conversation over transphobic content in comedy.
Just days after The Closer first dropped in October 2021, Chappelle performed a sold-out show for an A-List audience at the Hollywood Bowl where he proudly proclaimed, “If this is what being canceled is, I love it!” Considering that yesterday’s awards ceremony marked Chappelle’s fourth Best Comedy Album trophy in the past six years with another such accolade going to his friend and fellow “canceled” comedian Louis C.K., Chappelle might be onto something — being “canceled” could be the absolute best branding move a comedian can make in 2023 if they’re looking to fill their trophy case.
Chappelle was not in attendance for last night’s festivities at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, so singer, songwriter and record producer Babyface accepted the award on Chappelle’s behalf. After four such awards, winning a Grammy has clearly become a pedestrian experience for the comic who wildly oscillates between bragging that he’s the most popular and important comedian in the world and crying that he’s an oppressed iconoclast whom the ignorant masses are trying to violently silence.
When this year’s Grammy nominations were released in November, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. defended the voters’ decision to nominate both Chappelle and C.K. for the comedy category despite the controversies the two comics attract, saying, “We’re never going to be in the business of deciding someone’s moral position or where we evaluate them to be on the scale of morality. I think our job is to evaluate the art and the quality of the art.”
Mason qualified that statement with his assurance that, though the Grammys would honor Chappelle and C.K., the nominations did not preclude his organization from appealing to those who take issue with the former’s comments on transphobia or the latter’s admitted history of sexual misconduct, saying, “We can make sure that all of our spaces are safe and people don’t feel threatened by anyone.”
As some commentators participating in the farcical comedy culture wars claim that “wokeness” is somehow destroying American humor, Chappelle and C.K., the two comedians who have been the most criticized, tweeted about and trashed in left-leaning think pieces since the #MeToo movement sparked conversations about comedians’ behavior back in 2017, continue to accrue accolades and sell out stadiums while simultaneously playing the victims because some people on the internet said that they’re behaving like assholes.
If Beyoncé was bugged by Harry Styles stealing Album of the Year last night, all she has to do is write a song about how she agrees with J.K. Rowling’s garbage takes and she’ll be a shoe-in at next year's awards.