While Dave Chappelle has always sought to push boundaries when it comes to his brand of comedy, he’s found himself on the receiving end of significant backlash for much of his material as of late. The comic has specifically been chastised for jokes made at the expense of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender individuals. As a result, many have opted to protest many of his recent shows. Chappelle himself is aware of the response to his sentiments and is now opening up about what specifically bothers him about people’s decision to deride his work.
The 49-year-old comic recently opened up about a situation that occurred when he held a show at the Varsity Theatre in Minneapolis last summer. The rescheduled event was met with backlash, as protestors surrounded the venue. Chappelle also recalled during an episode of his podcast, The Midnight Miracle (opens in new tab) (via DailyMail.com), that some individuals threw eggs at those who were standing in line for the show and said that one person threw a police barricade into the crowd. The comedian recalled that ultimately, the performance wasn’t cancelled and that when he arrived on stage, he got a major ovation, because “suddenly going to see a comedy show was this huge act of defiance.”
The man who created Chappelle’s Show years ago went on to say that he does not believe that any of the protesters acted with “malicious intent” and also said that he’s not “mad” that people critique his work. However, what he argues is that he should be allowed to keep sharing his thoughts despite the fact that many take issue with them:
The star also questioned the notion of the public trying to “silence” an entertainer like himself and stated his belief that such methods have nothing to do with “love.” He, instead, argues that it all pertains to fear:
These arguments are part of a larger discussion regarding a person’s (or more specifically, an entertainer’s) right to free speech. Like him, a number of stars also contend that there’s no longer room for nuance in today’s society. However, some might counter that argument by saying that one’s right to say something doesn’t necessarily shield them from criticism. It’s a complex conversation – and one that’s likely to persist into the foreseeable future.
One of the most significant instances in which Dave Chappelle truly drew the ire of LGBTQ+ activists was when one of his Netflix specials, The Closer, was released in 2021. In the aftermath, many called for the streamer to pull the production, arguing that the content could be viewed as hate speech. However, company co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed that it wouldn’t do such, as he argued that the special didn’t cross that line and that “artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech.” This decision was also made known in a criticized internal email that leaked, leading Sarandos to apologize for how the situation was handled.
Since then, Dave Chappelle has seen pushback in other ways, with a man even attacking him on stage during a performance at the Hollywood Bowl in May 2022. When explaining why he tackled Chappelle, the man – who was given multiple misdemeanor charges, explained that he identifies as bisexual and claimed that the comic’s words were “triggering” to him. More recently, Chappelle hasn’t changed his stances on the topics he’s discussed, and his recent comments suggest that he plans to stand firm. But on the other side of that equation, it’s very likely that protesters will continue to object to his work.