Dave Chappelle has addressed the ongoing controversy surrounding his latest Netflix special, The Closer. In the special, the veteran comedian makes several jokes about transgendered people, defends J.K. Rowlings’ anti-trans comments, and goes as far to declare himself “Team TERF” (TERF is the acronym for a trans-exclusionary radical feminist).
Chappelle’s comments were met with immense criticism and last week, members of Netflix’s LGBTQ+ community staged a walkout in protest of the streamer’s decision to stand behind the comedian.
Over the weekend, Chappelle spoke about at the controversy at the end of his standup show in Nashville, and he has now uploaded video of his remarks to Instagram.
Chappelle began by disputing the claim that he declined an invitation to speak with LGBTQ+ staffers at Netflix. “If they had invited me, I would have accepted it,” he said.
“Although I am confused about what we’re speaking about,” Chappelle continued. “I said what I said and boy, I heard what you said. My god, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office anymore.”
In Chappelle’s mind, the real controversy is not over what he said about the LGBTQ+ community, but because of his willingness to say it in the first place. “I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames this as me vs. [the LGBTQ+] community, that’s not what it is. Do not blame the LGBTQ+ community for any of this shit, this has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say. For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supportive, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”
Chappelle also said he is willing to meet with the transgender community. “But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands,” he stated. “If you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions. First of all, you can not come if you haven’t watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing and at a time of my choosing. And thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
(Gadsby, an Australian comedian, recently spoke out against Netflix and Chappelle. After Netflix cited her as an example of its diverse comedy offerings, Gadsby responded, “Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess… Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chapelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view.”)
In his video response, Chappelle also lamented about how the firestorm has impacted the distribution of his upcoming documentary. “Because of this controversy, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival — nobody will touch this film. Thank god for Ted [Sarandos] and Netflix, he’s the only one who hasn’t canceled me yet.”
As a result, Chappelle plans to make the documentary available in 10 American cities starting next month. “You can see what they’re trying to obstruct you from seeing. You can judge for yourself. But you cannot have this conversation and exclude my voice from it.”
Chappelle ended his remarks by asking, “You have to answer the question: am I canceled or not?” The audience responded with a loud cheer and Chappelle dropped the mic and exited the stage.