It’s been a tough week for Dave Chappelle. The funnyman was roundly criticized for making a few jokes about Daphne Dorman in his recent Netflix special, “The Bird Revelation”. Addressing the audience near the end of his routine, he said: “If you’re not familiar with the story, there was this young Jewish woman from New York City who decided one day to be friends with this old guy from Florida who she met online.” He then went on to joke that Dorman was so lonely that she agreed to meet an older man — as if anyone would do that — and that she would never have sex again. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dorman’s family didn’t take kindly to the jibes. In fact, they spoke out very vocally against them. They told the media how upset they were, how it had brought them great pain and how they hoped Dave Chappelle — “a comedian we all love’ — would apologize and remove those parts of his set. But why? Read on to learn more… read more
Who is Daphne Dorman?
Daphne Dorman was a 47-year-old woman who lived in New York City. She was an avid user of online dating services and met a man named Edward Sparks online sometime in 2017. Sparks was actually an undercover detective posing as a widower in his sixties. He met Dorman on Jewish dating site JDate. Dorman met with Sparks several times and even went on vacation with him. But one day, Sparks showed up at her workplace and tried to take her away by force. She fought him off and called the police — who arrested Sparks. It turned out that Sparks was actually a cop who was investigating Dorman for prostitution and human trafficking.
What did Dave Chappelle say about Daphne Dorman?
As we mentioned, Chappelle’s jokes were about how Dorman was so desperate for companionship that she went on vacation with a man who was “old enough to be her dad”. He then said that she “wasn’t going to have sex with the guy, but she was like, ‘If he passes out, am I allowed to take his money?’”. He also joked about how Dorman was so lonely that she befriended an old man online and went to visit him in Florida “where she met a real-life swan that shat all over the place.” He then went on to say that Dorman was “frail” and “vulnerable” and that she “didn’t realize she was being set up”.
Why are her family members upset by the jokes?
Dorman’s family members say they’re upset because they feel the whole situation was being made into a joke. That it was being reduced to a few one-liners that made Dorman look like an idiot. Dorman’s family members feel that her dignity was stripped from her in the jokes. They feel that the jokes made it sound like Dorman was so gullible and stupid that she didn’t realize she was being set up by a police officer. The family members feel that Dorman was reduced to a punchline — and that she deserves better.
The problem with defending a joke
The idea that a joke can be defended is controversial. But it is nonetheless a very popular concept. Dorman’s family members are defending the joke. They are arguing that we should overlook or ignore the nature of the joke due to the comedian’s intent. Essentially, they are saying that the intent of the joke was to cut Dorman down so the joke was a success. But there are a lot of problems with this view. First, it suggests that any joke can or should be defended. That’s just not the case. Second, it suggests that intent is the only thing that matters when it comes to interpreting jokes. Again, that’s not true. Third, it ignores the fact that jokes are often open to interpretation. And that interpretation must be considered when evaluating the joke. And fourth, it ignores the fact that intent can be misconstrued. Intent can be misinterpreted and misread.
As we’ve seen, Dorman’s family members are upset by the jokes. They feel that the jokes show that Dorman was so helpless that she didn’t even realize she was being set up by a police officer. They feel that Dorman’s dignity was stripped from her in the jokes. They feel that the jokes made it seem like Dorman was so gullible and stupid that she didn’t know what was going on. Dorman’s family members are defending the joke. They are arguing that we should overlook or ignore the nature of the joke due to the comedian’s intent.