Dave Chappelle show canceled following outcry over his anti-trans jokes

Dave Chappelle, Netflix, transgender, employee walkout
Dave Chappelle Photo: Netflix screenshot

The Minneapolis venue originally scheduled to host Dave Chappelle’s July 20 night show cancelled the event following criticism of the comedian’s transphobic material. First Avenue, which was featured in Prince’s 1984 film Purple Rain, posted a statement to its official Instagram announcing the cancellation and apologizing to the community.

“To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry,” the post read. “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 First Avenue team and you have worked hard to make our venues the safest spaces in the country, and we will continue with that mission,” it continued. “We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have. We know there are some who will not agree with this decision; you are welcome to send feedback.”


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The show was moved to the Varsity Theater, where protesters gathered as fans lined up outside, according to Minnesota’s Star Tribune.

Chappelle has been criticized for transphobic jokes in his recent Netflix stand-up specials, particularly in 2021’s The Closer, and his defiant response to that criticism. Protesters at the Varsity Theater chanted “trans rights matter” and engaged in debate with fans waiting to see the comedian’s show on Wednesday night. One fan was reportedly hit by an egg, though onlookers did not believe the man who threw it was part of the protest.

One protester pointed to the record number of violent assaults on trans people in 2021. “Joking about them and dehumanizing them only adds to the danger,” the protester, who identified themself as Badger, said.

“Black men are held to a disproportionate standard,” said one Chappelle fan. “I’d like people to take all facts into consideration before making a sweeping judgment.”

In May, Chappelle was attacked onstage at the Hollywood Bowl by a bisexual man who later claimed he was triggered by the comedian’s jokes about the LGBTQ community and the unhoused. Afterward, Chappelle speculated that 23-year-old Isaiah Lee was transgender.

Last month, the comedian declined to have a theater at his alma mater named after him following student protests. Netflix, meanwhile, has continued to support Chappelle, releasing a speech he gave at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. defending himself against critics.

Most recently, the Television Academy announced that The Closer is nominated for two Emmy Awards.

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