Dave Chappelle does not make it easy.
He is one of the most brilliant standup comics in the business. But he also makes a sport of challenging his audience—putting ideas in front of them he knows are uncomfortable and unpalatable to those invested in modern notions of how to talk about feminism, gender, sexual orientation and race.
Sometimes, he does it to make a larger point. But at times—especially during his latest special for Netflix, The Closer—he also seems to have a daredevil’s relish for going to dangerous places onstage and eventually winning his audience over. Regardless of what he’s actually saying.
Of course, these days, the fix is in. Considered the Greatest Of All Time among many comedy fans—Chappelle says it about himself, wryly, toward the end of the special—The Closer finds him surrounded by an enthusiastic audience in Detroit ready to go wherever he takes them.
That much is obvious, early in the special, where he talks about an idea for a film centered on an ancient civilization which discovered space travel, left the planet and then came back, determined to claim the Earth for their own. His punch line is the title for the film: Space Jews.