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Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais guilty of ‘ironic bigotry’, claims columnist

By Ross Semple

Are two of the biggest comedians in the world guilty of perpetuating stereotypes about sexuality and gender identity?

Writing in The Guardian, comedy critic Brian Logan takes aim at comics like Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais for their “tin ear for the touchstone issues of the generation below theirs,” particularly homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.

Remarking on Dave Chappelle’s latest two comedy specials, which are rumoured to have netted him $20 million each, Logan notes that: “Chappelle spends substantial time across the two shows joking about gay and transgender people, usually from the perspective of a bemused straight man who finds those other identities inherently amusing.

“In one routine, he dismisses a gay man’s campaign to remove the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ from marriage licenses by advising: ‘Whichever one of you is gayer, that’s the wife.'”

Chappelle was criticised last year for insinuating that homophobia, transphobia and sexism aren’t as important as racism.

Logan also criticises Ricky Gervais for the content of his latest tour, in which he takes aim at trans people – after causing a stir with a joke he made about Caitlyn Jenner at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards.

“In part, this is about the successful comedian’s trajectory from underdog to top dog,” Logan argues. “When you’re at the bottom of the heap, you tend to punch upwards – and even if you punch sideways, your own powerlessness cuts you some slack.”

“When you’re a lauded multimillionaire, the context of your jokes has changed. Rich, powerful straight male with huge audience mocking the beleaguered isn’t a good look.”