Dave Chappelle responded to “The Closer” controversy during a recent stand-up show and let his audience know that while he’s open to having a conversation with Netflix’s transgender employees, he “won’t be summoned” and will continue to do things his way.
The comedian’s latest Netflix special, specifically his jokes centered on the transgender community, has been met with a wave of backlash since its Oct. 5 premiere, with many calling for its removal from the platform altogether. The streaming service’s CEO Ted Sarandos has made it clear that he stands with Chappelle and will not be removing the special. Some of the network’s employees, including those part of the LGBTQ+ community, participated in a walkout on Wednesday, Oct. 20, in protest of Chappelle and Netflix’s support of what they feel is a transphobic piece of content.
The “Chappelle’s Show” creator addressed the backlash in a set during an Oct. 24 Nashville, Tennessee, appearance that he co-headlined with Joe Rogan and told audiences that any reports of him declining a sit-down with Netflix’s transgender employees is “not true.” He also acknowledged that while he is open to a conversation, he wants to make a few things clear first.
“If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we’re speaking about. I said what I said, and boy I heard what you said. My God, how could I not?!” he asked the audience.
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands,” Chappelle stated later in his set before listing the three conditions that the sit-down must occur under. “First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing. Thirdly, you must admit that [Australian comedian] Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
“You cannot have this conversation and exclude my voice from it. That is only fair,” he added.
After noting the concerns he’s seen employees posting across social media, like their demand for a safe working environment, he countered with the point that “It seems like I am the only one that can’t go to the [Netflix] office anymore,” before insisting that the entire controversy has been filtered through the smoke screens of media and corporate involvement.
“Even though the media frames it as if it’s me against that community, that is not what it is. Do not blame the LGBQ community for any of this s**t, this has nothing to do with them,” he stated. “This is about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say.”
Chappelle maintained that everyone from the LGBTQ+ community that he knows personally has been nothing but “loving and supporting,” however, film festivals that he was previously invited to have not been as understanding. According to the five-time Emmy Award winner, several unnamed organizations have rescinded their invitations for him to screen his upcoming documentary due to the negative press that has surrounded “The Closer.”
“Now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film,” he said. “Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”
The polarizing comedian closed by letting the audience know that he’ll be hosting screenings of his untitled documentary across 10 cities nationwide so that fans will have the opportunity to “see what they’re trying to obstruct you from seeing.” The cities are: San Francisco (Nov. 4), Minneapolis (Nov. 7), Des Moines (Nov. 9), Indianapolis (Nov. 12), Cleveland (Nov. 14), Toronto (Nov. 15), Cincinnati (Nov. 17), Columbus, Ohio (Nov. 19), Atlanta (Nov. 21), and New York (Nov. 22).