The Washington Post

Chappelle’s show in Minneapoli­s moved to different venue after backlash

- BY TIMOTHY BELLA Perry stein and Amanda AndradeRho­ades contribute­d to this report.

Comedian Dave Chappelle’s show at a Minneapoli­s venue on Wednesday was canceled hours before he was set to take the stage because of backlash from staff and the community over his recent jokes about transgende­r people.

First Avenue announced in a statement that Chappelle would not perform at the venue on Wednesday night but at another location in Minneapoli­s. The venue had faced blowback for booking the legendary comedian for a surprise, sold-out performanc­e in the months that followed his 2021 Netflix special, “The Closer,” in which Chappelle doubled down on jokes about the LGBTQ community after past accusation­s of homophobia and transphobi­a.

“To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry,” First Avenue said in a statement, which was posted to social media less than three hours before the show was scheduled to begin. “We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down. We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a room, but meaningful beyond our walls.”

The storied venue, which is best known for its appearance­s in Prince’s 1984 film “Purple Rain,” added that while it believes in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, “we lost sight of the impact” booking Chappelle would have on the community.

“We know there are some who will not agree with this decision; you are welcome to send feedback,” First Avenue wrote.

A representa­tive for Chappelle did not immediatel­y respond to a request for comment early Thursday.

Chappelle has faced criticism for comments that LGBTQ advocacy groups say could incite harm against transgende­r people. As part of “The Closer,” Chappelle joked about transgende­r genitalia, said “gender is a fact” and told his audience he was on “team TERF,” an acronym for trans-exclusiona­ry radical feminist. The comedian also defended J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” books, who has been criticized for making statements seen as transphobi­c. Chappelle has joked about the transgende­r community in the past, including in his 2019 special, “Sticks & Stones.”

GLAAD, a media watchdog group, previously accused the Chappelle program of having “anTI-LGBTQ content” that violates Netflix’s policy to reject programs inciting hate or violence. The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights advocacy group, called on Netflix last year to immediatel­y pull the special and “directly apologize to the transgende­r community.”

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-chief executive, has repeatedly defended the comedian, saying last year that “creative freedom” was one reason the company would not take down the special. Sarandos has acknowledg­ed that although some people may find Chappelle’s stand-up to be “mean-spirited,” “our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”

Fallout from the special has happened throughout the last year. After the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest Washington planned to dedicate the student theater to the comedian, Chappelle unexpected­ly announced last month that it would not bear his name. Chappelle declined the honor amid controvers­y over his Netflix special last year at a time when Ellington students had also raised concerns.

Chappelle has been open about the backlash, telling the Ellington audience last month that the criticism “sincerely” hurt him but that it lacked nuance and wasn’t about his work.

In announcing the cancellati­on Wednesday, First Avenue said Chappelle’s show was moved to the Varsity Theater, where all tickets for the performanc­e would be honored. Chappelle had already been scheduled to perform at the Varsity Theater on Thursday and Friday.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Varsity Theater to oppose Chappelle, many of them chanting, “Trans rights matter!” and holding signs saying, “Transphobi­a isn’t a joke.” One Chappelle fan was also hit by an egg by a man who protesters don’t believe was part of the demonstrat­ion, according to the Minneapoli­s Star Tribune.

Chappelle reportedly teased the protesters during his Wednesday night set but urged those in attendance at the Varsity Theater to keep supporting First Avenue, the Star Tribune reported.

“It’s an important place for our culture,” he said.

 ?? AMANDA Andrade-rhoades FOR The Washington Post ?? Comedian Dave Chappelle speaks at the dedication of the theater at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., on June 20. The auditorium was set to be renamed for alum Dave Chappelle but, in a surprise move, he asked the theater to be named “Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.”
AMANDA Andrade-rhoades FOR The Washington Post Comedian Dave Chappelle speaks at the dedication of the theater at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., on June 20. The auditorium was set to be renamed for alum Dave Chappelle but, in a surprise move, he asked the theater to be named “Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States