Dave Chappelle is denying a claim that he was invited, but declined, to meet with Netflix’s transgender employees/allies who took issue with his latest stand-up comedy special and on Oct. 20 staged a walkout. But he is open to such a sitdown, he said in a video posted Monday afternoon to his Instagram account.
“If they had invited me I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about,” Chappelle says in the video below. “I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not?
“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,” Chappelle says about three minutes in. “And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions.
“First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end,” he said. Secondly, “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.”
Gadbsy has fronted two Netflix stand-up specials of her own, and recently criticized Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ steadfast defense of Chappelle’s latest special.
Released on Oct. 5, Dave Chappelle: The Closer was promoted as the last in a “body of work” that also included 2017’s The Age of Spin, Deep In the Heart of Texas, Equanimity and The Bird Revelation, followed by 2019’s Sticks & Stones. In the 72-minute special, Chappelle maintains that “gender is a fact,” goes on to say that “every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth,” and eventually likens trans women’s genitalia to brands of plant-based meat substitutes. Chappelle also declares his support for Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling (who has been condemned for comments deemed anti-trans) and states that he is proudly “Team TERF” (an initialism that stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist).
The special was criticized by Gadbsy and GLAAD as well as Dear White People executive producer Jaclyn Moore, who declared that she would no longer work with Netflix “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
In the Instagram video above, Chappelle says, “I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames it that it’s me versus that [LGBTQ] community, that is not what it is…. For the record… everyone I know from that community has been loving and supporting, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”
Netflix co-CEO Sarandos first acknowledged the controversy in an internal memo leaked Oct. 11, but defended Chappelle’s “artistic freedom.” In a subsequent memo on Oct. 13, Sarandos doubled down on his defense of Chappelle, telling his staff that The Closer “doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm” for the LGBTQ community.
Days later, Sarandos said during an apology tour of sorts, “Obviously, I screwed up that internal communication. I should have led with a lot more humanity….. I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged up front.”
Sarandos also said that “of course storytelling has real impact in the real world,” yet maintained that he does not believe Chappelle’s remarks can be classified as “hate speech.” As such, he at the time reiterated that Netflix had no plans to remove The Closer from its library, attach a “warning card,” or make any edits.