One of America’s most beloved funny men, Patton Oswalt spent New Year’s Eve with a friend, and since it’s 2021 were talking about, he of course got roasted for it. When Patton Oswalt took to Instagram to share his delight in being invited on stage with longtime friend and fellow comedian, Dave Chappelle, he likely wasn’t considering the onslaught of criticism he would receive for showing support for the ever-controversial stand-up comedian. However, The King of Queens star had the perfect reaction for his critics, and his earnest response was a strong start to 2022.
The controversy began with a post from Patton Oswalt showing him with Dave Chappelle. In 2021, Chappelle made headlines for allegedly transphobic comments made during his Netflix special, The Closer. That wasn’t mentioned in Oswalt’s post. The post announces that the two just did a set together.
Two nights ago, Patton Oswalt shared a series of pictures of himself with Dave Chappelle. Looking elated to have gotten the opportunity to bring in the New Year together, Oswalt told his followers that he received an unexpected text from Dave Chappelle to make a special appearance at his set. Both men were performing in close proximity to one another in Seattle. Reiterating that he was ecstatic to hear from his friend of 34 years, Oswalt said, “Why not? I waved good-bye to this hell-year with a genius I started comedy with 34 years ago.”
After the initial post from Patton Oswalt where he was pictured with Dave Chappelle, fan outrage became more apparent to the star. He followed up with another post.
In the above follow-up post the next day, Patton Oswalt took the opportunity to provide more insight to his New Year’s Eve post and voice his support for LGBTQ+ and trans rights. While making sure to insist that his friendship with Chappelle has never waivered, Oswalt said, “I support trans peoples’ rights — ANYONE’S rights — to live safely in the world as their fullest selves. For all the things he’s helped ME evolve on, I’ll always disagree with where he stands NOW on transgender issues.” Oswalt was clear that he will “never” agree with Chapelle’s current stance on trans rights, however, he also pointed out that he does not believe Chappelle is done evolving.
While always under scrutiny as comedians often are, Dave Chappelle has been under fire recently following jokes and remarks targeted at the trans community in his recent Netflix special, The Closer. The special became a heated topic, with several trans comedians speaking out saying they felt that Chapelle’s comments were examples of “punching down” on those with less power. Not backing down, however, Chappelle has vehemently defended himself and his comments as he claims to have many friends in the trans community. The aftermath of the controversy included several Netflix employee walkouts for not banning the special, and an onslaught of Internet users calling for the comedian to be canceled. As split as reactions are, people like Patton Oswalt seemingly understand the culture surrounding comedy and are understanding that opposing views are not the be all end all.
When Patton Oswalt penned his heartfelt response to meeting with his controversial friend, he shared an epiphany into the current state of culture in the US, and the divide it has caused. “I’ve been carrying a LOT of guilt about friends I’ve cut off, who had views with which I couldn’t agree, or changed in ways I couldn’t live with. Sometimes I wonder — did I and others cutting them off make them dig their heels in deeper, fuel their ignorance with a nitro-boost of resentment and spite?” Making sure to stay ever-so humble, he later apologized for deleting posts in the initial post’s comment thread from “critical” LGBTQ writers along with the TERF/ anti-trans comments. He also iterated how deeply sorry he was for upsetting anyone, before pointing out that there is always room for growth.
Patton Oswalt has been one of America’s most coveted actors and comedians for decades. As a highly respected man in the industry, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking the events of New Year’s Eve and using them against him. However, as Dave Chappelle is never a man to mince words, we will delightfully wait and see what the Half Baked star may have to say in response to his long-time friend.