Controversial comedians Dave Chappelle and Louis CK, who have both forcefully decried so-called “cancel culture”, have received Grammy nominations for recent comedy specials.
Chappelle and the poet Amir Sulaiman are nominated in the best spoken word album category for the Netflix special 8:46, released in the summer of 2020. The 48-year-old comedian has drawn criticism for transphobia in his follow-up special, The Closer, in which he mocked gender identity and targeted trans people.
After its debut in October, trans staffers at Netflix held a walkout to protest Netflix CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos’s handling of the special. Sarandos stood by Chappelle, but said he “screwed up” with two internal memos defending the special.
Netflix, along with HBO, did cut ties with Louis CK and his film I Love You Daddy in 2017, in the wake of several accusations of sexual misconduct and accounts of how he exposed himself to female comedians.
After a brief hiatus, the comedian and star of the auto-fictional FX show Louie returned to touring standup. His special Sincerely Louis CK, the first released since his admission to several acts of misconduct, is a surprise Grammy nomination for best comedy album.
Chappelle has previously won three Grammys for best comedy album: in 2018, for The Age of Spin; in 2019, for Equanimity & The Bird Revelation; and in 2020, for the Netflix special Sticks & Stones.
He faces tough competition in the best spoken word category, including Barack Obama, for the audiobook version of his memoir A Promised Land (Obama has two previous Grammys in this category, in 2006 and 2007, for books Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope); LeVar Burton, for the audiobook of his 1997 novel Aftermath; and actor Don Cheadle for his narration of Carry On: Reflections for a New Generation from John Lewis.
Louis CK is up against comedians Chelsea Handler, Nate Bargatze, Lewis Black, Lavell Crawford and Kevin Hart.