Dave Chappelle won the Emmy Award this year for Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) thanks to his 2019 Netflix comedy special “Sticks and Stones,” which happened to earn the popular comedian some of his worst critical reviews to date. “Sticks and Stones” carries a 32% on Rotten Tomatoes and was widely criticized by television critics because of Chappelle’s transphobic humor and jokes made about the #MeToo movement, including Chappelle’s declaration that he does not believe the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexual assault. The comedian won the Emmy despite poor critical reviews, and he used his acceptance speech to shut down his critics.
“Boy, this comes as a complete surprise,” Chappelle said in a pre-recorded speech. “I mean, I read all the reviews and they said so many terrible things. They were embarrassed for me; I had lost my way, it wasn’t even worth watching — I hope all you critics learn from this. This is a teachable moment. Shut the fuck up, forever.”
“It’s a special night because comedy gets to be itself,” Chappelle added. “It’s all we’ve ever wanted. I hope the war is over. We good? And as always, I would like to thank my wife, Elaine. Elaine has been with me for the last 25 years and has had to endure the pains of living with the greatest comedian ever.”
IndieWire’s television awards editor Libby Hill wrote of Chappelle’s Emmy, “‘Sticks & Stones’” has been controversial ever since it first debuted on Netflix in August 2019 due to many of the people Chappelle chose to target with his humor, including the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender individuals, the #MeToo movement, the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse, and the ‘cancel culture’ that dares to hold people, particularly those with privilege, power, and/or wealth accountable for their words. Of course, that cancel culture argument isn’t quite as effective when you end up winning two Emmys for your pointedly cruel, homophobic, and misogynistic humor.”
Chappelle’s working relationship with Netflix continued this year with the free release of his pandemic comedy special “846,” which has earned over 27 million views on YouTube since premiering in June.