Dave Chappelle addresses trans controversy: ‘Not bending to anybody’s demands’

Chappelle released a stand-up video on Instagram in which he says he's willing to meet with transgender employees of Netflix.

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The ongoing controversy around Dave Chappelle’s The Closer comedy special, which premiered earlier this month on Netflix, continues. 

The comedian released a stand-up video saying he is willing to meet with transgender employees of the streaming giant, but he will not bend “to anybody’s demands.” 

Dave Chappelle attends the UK premiere of “Dave Chappelle: Untitled” at Cineworld Leicester Square earlier this month in London, England. (Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

Trans activists and employees at Netflix organized a walkout and have urged the company to pull the special that many have condemned as transphobic. 

In the short video, which was released to Chappelle’s 2.3 million followers on Instagram, the comic maintained, “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. If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about.” 

“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said,” he continued. “My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”

Chappelle said he has received support from some members of the LGBTQ community, and that the controversy around The Closer was being generated by the media and “corporate interests.” 

He listed his own set of demands in order to meet with members of the transgender community.

“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me,” said Chappelle. “I am not bending to anybody’s demands. And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions. 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, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”

Gadsby is an lesbian comedian and critic of Chappelle’s.

“I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames it that it’s me versus that community, that is not what it is. Do not blame the LBGTQ [sic] community for any of this sh*t. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say,” Chappelle said. “For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been loving and supporting, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”

Chappelle also announced he will be taking his Untitled documentary on a 10-city screening tour, after claiming that he’s been “disinvited” from several festivals, and the film was being rejected by other major entities. 

“And 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 screening tour of Untitled will kick off in San Francisco on Nov. 4, and end in New York on Nov. 22. Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar, the film is reportedly about Chappelle’s activities during the coronavirus lockdown, when he invited small groups to comedy shows and other performances at his ranch in Yellow Springs, Ohio. 

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