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Dave Chappelle’s ‘What’s In A Name?’ Quietly Drops on Netflix, Seemingly Explains Why He Rejected School-Naming Honor

Without much promotion, Netflix quietly dropped a new Dave Chappelle special titled “Dave Chappelle: What’s in a Name?” The special was recorded last month at Duke Ellington School for The Arts, where students objected to renaming a theater after the famous alumnus following his remarks about members of the LGBTQ+ community in his controversial standup “The Closer.” 

Facing a crowd of fans and critics, the 48-year-old seemingly tried to give insight into the nature of his art and how the media has unfairly criticized it. The Hollywood star shared, “The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it. And it has nothing to do with what you’re saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my right, my freedom of artistic expression. That is valuable to me.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 20: Dave Chappelle speaks onstage during the Dave Chappelle theatre dedication ceremony at Duke Ellington School of the Arts on June 20, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)

Chappelle claimed that when he returned to his alma mater after the chaos “The Closer” had created, he asked the students where he fell short and, as a result, “a line formed.” 

The “8:46” star said, “These kids had everything to say about gender and this and that and the other, but they didn’t say anything about art.” The Washington D.C.-born entertainer continued to air out his frustration and, at one point in the roughly 40-minute speech, declared, “And this is my biggest gripe with this whole controversy with ‘The Closer’: that you cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance from his words.”

He added, “It would be like if you were reading a newspaper and they say, ‘Man shot in the face by a six-foot rabbit expected to survive,’ you’d be like, ‘Oh my god,’ and they never tell you it’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon.”

As previously reported, Chappelle revealed the theater would ultimately be named Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression, citing, “Because to me, that’s what I would want for myself, and that’s what I would want for every student that goes to this school.” 

The masses online still appear to be divided over their support for the star. While many championed Chappelle’s comedic styling, many felt the speech was just a continuation of his harmful work. Some have even begun to question why Netflix supports him, including one Twitter user who wrote, “Man what f-cking friends does Dave Chappelle have at Netflix to have them continually let him do things?”

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