Katt Williams won’t be muzzling his jokes for the sake of avoiding hecklers.
Like everyone else, the stand-up comic has witnessed fellow entertainers Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle be assaulted while onstage. And while it may seem as though those attacks are becoming a trend and less of an exception, Williams believes there is a greater narrative at play.
“Comedians aren’t under attack, freedom of speech is under attack as it has been for a good time now,” Williams told Ebony. The “World War III” comic suggests that in the midst of a cancel culture crackdown on comedians the main objective has less to do with censoring offensive jokes — i.e. the chaos that erupted when Chappelle made the LBGTQ+ community the punchline of jokes in his controversial Netflix special “The Closer. The “Friday After Next” actor says instead the art of comedy is a medium to provide commentary on taboo topics.
“Comedy is the ability to say those things that are not often said. So it’s a fine line in between,” he said. As it pertains to the push to make comedy more politically correct, Williams added, “[there are] people working diligently to make sure that certain things don’t go as usual. And their goal is to disrupt and to make different things happen.”
Williams further elaborated by saying, “Things that you think are guaranteed rights, they’re working hard to remove those rights from you. And if they need to have somebody storm a stage in order to push that narrative, they’re not beyond that in any way, shape, form or fashion.”
During his appearance at the Netflix is a Joke Festival, Chappelle was tackled onstage by a makeshift weapon-yielding civilian. The attacker was swiftly dealt with by security and now faces criminal charges. (This week Isaiah Lee, Chappelle’s alleged attacker, was charged with attempted murder in connection with a stabbing incident in December.) Comedian-actor Kevin Hart, who has publicly spoken out against the cancel culture movement, recently said he hopes Chappelle’s attacker will be a deterrent to others.
“It’s time to get back to a place of respect for your live entertainer. … We’ve now lost sight of the relationship of audience to comedian, and that line has gotten blurred to where it’s like, ‘Well, I don’t need to do this and like this, and I can stand up and make a point,’” said Hart during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”