Dave Chappelle Addresses the Backlash to His Netflix Special ‘The Closer’ in New Clip


It’s been three weeks, and the fallout from Dave Chappelle’s comments about trans people in his latest Netflix special The Closer is getting even more layered and complex. On October 25, Chappelle shared a new video of himself performing that addressed the controversy he’s been mired in. “Am I cancelled or not?” he asks angrily at its conclusion.

“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true,” Chappelle told the audience. ”If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we are speaking about. I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not?”

On October 20, Netflix employees organized a walkout both to protest the special and demand their company do more to support trans people both at the company and in the film industry. Per The Verge, one of the major organizers of the walkout was fired by Netflix earlier in October, allegedly for leaking data related to Chappelle’s program.

“Thank god for Ted Sarandos at Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet,” Chappelle said in the new video.

When employees raised initial concerns about Chappelle’s latest work, Sarandos said, “We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line” in an internal email. In a subsequent conversation with Variety after the backlash grew, he admitted he “screwed up that internal communication,” but emphasized that he doesn’t view The Closer as hate speech.

Chappelle said that he would be open to speaking to trans people, but stipulated he would only talk to people who had watched the entirety of his special and that he would set the time and location (he also threw in a dig at comedian Hannah Gadsby, who criticized him and Sarandos in an Instagram post).

“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience,” he said. “But you will not summon me, I am not bending to anybody’s demands. If you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to but I have some conditions.”

The recent video appears to be from an October 24 arena show in Nashville where Chappelle performed alongside Joe Rogan. The popular podcaster has defended Chappelle in the wake of the Closer controversy, asserting that his message “is in no way transphobic.”

Trans comedians have been critical of Chappelle’s comments about LGBTQ+ people. A particular sticking point has been the extensive segment of The Closer where he talks about his friendship with the late Daphne Dorman, who he also mentioned in his 2019 special Sticks & Stones. (Some members of Dorman’s family have offered support for Chappelle.)

“I want to like Dave Chappelle so much,” comedian and musician Nat Puff told CNN. “But when he talks about the trans community, he’s not talking about them, he’s speaking out against them. And that’s the difference between saying something funny about the trans community and saying something offensive about the trans community.”

Chappelle said in his new material that he doesn’t see this as an issue between himself and the LGBTQ+ community. “It’s about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say,” he claimed.

He also said that he was disinvited from a number of film festivals that had previously accepted the documentary he made about shows he staged in Ohio last summer. This clip doubles as an announcement for several screenings of the film around the U.S. and it’s likely these various appearances will keep Chappelle in headlines and the controversy around The Closer at the forefront of the entertainment world.





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