Dave Chappelle is finally speaking out about the controversy surrounding his Netflix special, The Closer, in an video posted Monday to his Instagram.
In the five-plus minute clip, the comedian denied claims that he refused to meet with Netflix’s transgender employees, who staged a walkout last week in response to co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ mishandling of the matter. Chappelle said he’s now ready for a meeting under a few conditions, one being that those who participate must watch his comedy special in full.
“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,” Chappelle, who is currently on tour, said in the video. “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 that can’t go to the office anymore.”
Chappelle addressed the transgender community directly saying, “I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands.”
He then laid out conditions on which he’d meet with staffers. “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, the Australian comedian who released a Netflix special in 2018, was among high-profile celebrities who called Chappelle out for commentary in The Closer.
Chappelle said the controversy surrounding the special has to do with “corporate interests” and that he’s received support from some members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames it that it’s me versus that community, that’s not what it is,” Chappelle said in the video. “Do not blame the LGBTQ [sic] community for any of this shit. It has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests, and what I can say, and what I cannot say.”
He continued, “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 this nonsense is about.”
Chappelle also spoke about his upcoming documentary that he created last year, saying that film festivals have started to disinvite him from events due to the recent controversy.
“And now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film,” he claimed. “Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.” (Sarandos didn’t cancel Chappelle, but he did say that he “screwed up” after he sent memos to staff regarding the special.)
Chappelle said that he plans to release the film himself with screenings scheduled in 10 American cities, which coincides with his remaining tour dates. Those cities include San Francisco (11/4), Minneapolis (11/7), Des Moines (11/9), Indianapolis (11/12), Cleveland (11/14), Toronto (11/15), Cincinnati (11/17), Columbus (11/19), Atlanta (11/21) and New York City (11/22).
“You will be able to see the film in its entirety and you can see what they’re trying to obstruct you from seeing. And you can judge for yourself,” he said. “But you cannot have this conversation and exclude my voice from it.”
Chappelle ended the video asking the audience, “Am I canceled or not?,” before tossing his microphone and walking off the stage.
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