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‘Dave Freed the Slaves’: Damon Wayans Celebrates Dave Chappelle After Netflix Agrees Not to Remove His Controversial Comedy Special

Dave Chappelle is garnering support after a considerable amount of backlash following the release of his latest Netflix special “The Closer.” In the wake of his performance, the veteran comedian has been mainly accused of offending members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Still, not everyone is totally opposed to the comedic stylings of Chappelle, including fellow funnyman and friend Damon Wayans

Damon Wayans defends Dave Chappelle amid Netflix special controversy. Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage, Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The “My Wife and Kids” star caught up with gossip blog site TMZ this week, where he gave his views on Chappelle’s latest project and the backlash its received, telling reporters, “I feel like Dave freed the slaves.”

The “Lethal Weapon” star continued, “The comedians, we were slaves to PC culture and he just, you know, as an artist, he’s Van Gogh. Cut his ear off. He’s trying to tell us it’s OK.” 

While Wayans says he has always been free, he believes that what Chappelle is trying to convey is that “Hey, you know what, with all that I have, I’m not afraid to lose it for the sake of freedom of speech. You can’t edit yourself.” 

He later compared Chappelle’s success and longevity to Mercedes-Benz, telling the outlet, “Comedians, we — like, Mercedes makes a great car, but they crash a lot of them before they perfect it.”

The 61-year-old didn’t address any particular jokes made in the special — many of which came under scrutiny for targeting transgender people. However, he told reporters that “there is a bigger conversation we need to have” about freedom of speech. 

Still, Wayans wasn’t the only one quick to come to the defense of Chappelle. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, reportedly defended the actor in an email sent out to staff members on  Friday, Oct. 8, during which the businessman offered tips on how to soothe those that were angry or felt offended by the series. 

“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him. His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date,” Sarandos wrote in the memo, obtained by Variety.

“As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful,” he added before listing other shows from the streaming platform that have also attracted the wrong kind of attention, including the popular teen suicide drama “13 Reasons Why.”

Sarando wrote in the memo that “some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”

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