Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin joined "Alabama's Morning News with JT" on Thursday to discuss controversial comedians Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, who performed at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center (BJCC) on Wednesday night.
According to Woodfin, the show, which was co-headlined by Rock and Chappelle, was sold out. Over 17,000 people attended the event, filling the BJCC's Legacy Arena.
The comedians touched on a variety of topics, including "woke" cancel culture, guns and racial issues. But this is not a first. Both Rock and Chappelle have developed a reputation for stirring the pot.
Chappelle rose to national prominence in the early 2000s with his popular sketch comedy show, "Chappelle's Show," which parodied aspects of contemporary American life and culture. He won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2019 — an award previously awarded to legendary comedians such as Richard Pryor and George Carlin.
Over the last several years, transgender activists became disgruntled with Chappelle due to his jokes poking fun at and calling out the hostility of the transgender movement during several of his comedy specials on Netflix.
Chappelle was attacked by an audience member with a knife while performing at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles last year. Chappelle did not sustain any injuries, and the man was escorted off the stage while Chappelle continued his set.
Recently, Chappelle became the center of controversy again after a guest appearance on "Saturday Night Live," in which he discussed contentious figures Kanye West and Kyrie Irving and their espousal of antisemitic ideas.
On the other hand, Rock began doing stand-up in the 1980s and became an apprentice to Eddie Murphy, who gave him a role in his film, "Beverly Hills Cop II" in 1987. After serving as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1990s, Rock went on to have a highly successful comedy career, producing several comedy specials and a narrated sitcom, "Everybody Hates Chris," based on his childhood.
While hosting the 2022 Academy Awards, actor Will Smith slapped Rock after he made a joke about Smith's wife's alopecia.
"First of all, you got a sold-out show," Woodfin said. "Seventeen thousand citizens across our community. That's a sellout. … Each comedian, in my opinion, got better and funnier, and I would just say it was great. I don't have any comments. Was some of their stuff political? Yes. But they're comedians, but two of them are the greatest of all time in their genre."
Woodfin said he thinks there is a line comedians can't cross but that people should listen to what comedians are actually saying and understand that they're telling jokes.
"Chris Rock got up there and had a litany of jokes to talk about his own self being slapped," Woodfin said. "And it was funny. He was talking about himself, too. And it was fair game. Black people were talked about. White people were talked about."
Woodfin and host JT also discussed the violent crime in the city, which was at its highest level since the early 1990s.
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