Dave Chappelle continued his recent assault on “cancel culture” during what he said was an unscripted speech Sunday night in Washington, D.C.
Accepting this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a lifetime achievement award bestowed annually by the Kennedy Center, Chappelle ignored the smoking ban and lit up a cigarette on stage.
“I want everyone in America right now to look at me. Look at me smoking indoors,” he said, according to USA Today. “I didn’t ask anybody… What are they gonna do? Kick me out before I get the prize?”
“It’s called leverage,” he added.
Chappelle went on to address woke backlash to his latest Netflix standup special, “Stick and Stones,” in which he mocks LGBT “alphabet people,” Michael Jackson’s accusers, supporters and opponents of abortion and uptight comedy audiences.
“It’s the best part of the First Amendment to me that I’m able to express myself this way and make a viable living doing it,” Chappelle told NPR ahead of the award ceremony.
Chappelle’s special divided viewers, on one hand, and professional reviewers, on the other. It has a 35 percent score from critics and a 99 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Dave Chappelle on the Second Amendment
Saying that he knows comedians who are “very racist” in their jokes, Chappelle suggested that everyone relax.
“Don’t get mad at ’em, don’t hate on ’em,” Chappelle told the D.C. crowd. “Man, it’s not that serious. The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the first one doesn’t work out.”
During the night, a number of other comedians and actors took the stage to pay tribute to Chappelle. Among them were Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman and Aziz Ansari.
Chappelle’s acceptance speech will air on January 7 at 9 p.m. Eastern time on PBS.