Non-binary comedian Mae Martin namechecks Dave Chappelle in their new Netflix special Sap and recently explained why in an interview with Rolling Stone.
When asked how they “balance that self-described earnestness in a comedy climate that seems to be unfairly focused on the queer and trans community,” they responded: “When you’re someone who’s part of the trans community, it can feel like a lose-lose. Because as soon as I start talking about it, people are like, ‘Ugh, these people are constantly whining. But it’s also a very crucial time to present a counterargument to the very loud people with huge platforms who are weighing in in bad faith about things that have real-life consequences. It’s a very difficult tone to hit because I do care about it so deeply, and could so easily rant for hours about how annoyed I am. So if it’s in any way helpful for people to see someone speaking about their lived experience and cutting through the endless debate about whether trans people deserve to be happy, then hopefully it’s worth it.”
They were then asked if naming famous stars in their special might “paint a target on [their] back,” to which Martin responded, “When I was touring the show I tried it — not naming them. It just felt like I was trying to be coy. I feel confident about what I’m saying, so I might as well just name them.”
Marin used Dave Chapelle’s name, after he had made what some considered transphobic jokes in his own highly controversial 2021 Netflix comedy show, The Closer, (which he later won a Grammy for.)
In The Closer, Chapelle referred to himself as a member of ‘Team TERF.’ (TERF stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.)
Many criticized Chapelle’s comments, from fans to fellow Netflix stars, but Netflix boss Ted Sarandos dstood by Chapelle and The Closer, releasing a statement that Netflix would never publish content “designed to incite hate or violence.”
Still, many, including Martin, feel like Chapelle’s comments were in poor taste, especially with all the anti-trans rhetoric taking the nation.
“The main thing I wish is that straight allies with bigger platforms would be brave enough to weigh in as well,” Martin told Rolling Stone. “Because it’s easy to dismiss queer people as being constantly up in arms about something. But with the legislation, we’re seeing such terrifying real-life consequences. And they’re things that affect everybody — there’s such a parallel between trans rights and bodily autonomy for women and all kinds of things that I think it’s time we all got involved a little bit. In the past couple of years, there’s been people mistakenly equating equality with some kind of infringement on their right to free speech.”
They added, “I want to say to these heroes of mine, comedians who are starting to feel like the enemy has become this kind of woke left: you’re being tricked.”
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