Dave Chappelle has issued a response to the backlash following the release of his latest comedy special on Netflix, The Closer.
After weeks that included an employee walkout and protest and the firing of a Black trans employee who helped organize it, an apology (of sorts) from Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos in which he admitted to “screwing up” his response to the special and the suspension of another trans employee who spoke out against the special, the comedian at the center of it is finally speaking out.
Per Variety, Chappelle’s response came via a video posted to Instagram, where he addressed the transgender community, the media and claims that he turned down meeting with trans employees at Netflix.
“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to transgender employees at Netflix and I refused. That is not true. If they had of invited me, I would’ve 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?” Chapelle began.
“You say you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore,” he continued. “I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames it as though it’s me versus that community, that’s not what it is. Do not blame the LGBTQ+ for any of this shit, this has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests in what I can say and what I cannot say. For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from the community has been nothing but loving and supporting. So I don’t know what any of this nonsense is about.”
Chappelle then went on to talk about the series of comedy shows he put on back in 2020 that boasted various notable comedians in attendance and the conversations that ensued as a result of them. He explained how he used that content to create his latest documentary, Untitled Dave Chappelle Documentary and other specials, including 8:46 and The Closer.
He later added:
“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. If you wanna meet with me, I’d be more than willing to but I have some conditions. First of all, don’t come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing and a time of my choosing. And thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
He concluded by confirming earlier reports that he would be going on a 10-city U.S. tour where he’ll show the documentary and allow others to judge the content for themselves. As previously reported by The Root, a rep for Dave Chappelle told the press that the comedian was “open to dialogue” with the trans employees at Netflix but that “Dave stands by his art. Both sides of the street are talking and Dave is listening. At some point, when everyone is open, I’m sure our communities will come together.”