“Team TERF” comedian Dave Chappelle has called teens who oppose transphobic jokes “instruments of oppression” in a bizarre speech that quietly dropped on Netflix.
The release – called What’s in a Name – details a speech that Chappelle gave in June during a ceremony in Washington DC at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. The school was due to honour the self-described comedian after he donated $100,000 to the school’s theatre, saying a year earlier that having it named after him was “the most significant honour of my life”.
He has since declined the honour according to a report from The Washington Post on June 20 after being labelled a “bigot” by students due to his anti-trans comedy special The Closer.
In his newly released speech recap, Chappelle talked about his time at the school, as well as the criticism he has received from current students, whom he called “instruments of oppression”.
“I said to the kids, I go, ‘well, OK, well what do you guys think I did wrong?’ And a line formed. These kids said everything about gender, and this and that and the other, but they didn’t say anything about art,” Chappelle continued.
Dave Chappelle believes that much of the criticism he faced over The Closer removed “artistic nuance” from his words, saying that “it would be like if you were reading a newspaper and they say, ‘Man shot in the face by a six-foot rabbit expected to survive.’ You’d be like, ‘Oh my god,’ and they never tell you it’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon.”
He also compared the special to an incident where a disguised protestor threw a piece of cake at the glass protecting the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum, saying: “I saw in the newspaper that a man who was dressed in women’s clothing threw a pie at the Mona Lisa and tried to deface it. And it made me laugh and I thought, ‘It’s like The Closer.’”
Saying he was “sincerely hurt” by the students’ backlash to his special, Chappelle defended his jokes, saying that “no matter what they say about The Closer, it is still (one of the) most-watched specials on Netflix… The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it.”
Netflix has since green-lit Dave Chappelle for a future comedy special despite the row over his anti-trans jokes after CEO Ted Sarandos refused to condemn the special even after admitting he “screwed up”.
“Of course, storytelling has a real impact in the real world,” Sarandos said to Variety. “I reiterate that because it’s why I work here, it’s why we do what we do. That impact can be hugely positive, and it can be quite negative.
“Under the definition of ‘does it intend to cause physical harm?’ I do not believe it falls into hate speech.”