Dave Chappelle to open Netflix comedy festival next year
Dave Chapelle will open Netflix’s first-ever comedy festival in Los Angeles this spring, despite the waves of criticism he received for his final special on the streaming platform.
Chapelle will headline the show “Dave Chapelle and Friends” at the Hollywood Bowl venue on April 28, the first day of Netflix is a Joke: The Festival, which runs until May 8 and features more than 130 comedians and performers.
Robbie Paw, the director of standup and comedy specials at Netflix, said the festival is “going to give comedy fans the opportunity to see the greats and discover new voices in one of the greatest cities in the world,” in a press release.
Chapelle, who has long been at odds with the LGBTQ and transgender community for his crude jokes, faced particular backlash for his sixth comedy special “The Closer,” which was released in October as his last film for Netflix. Chapelle spent more than half of the special making jokes and telling stories about the transgender community, which some called transphobic, mocking and disparaging.
The comedian has not walked back his remarks even as the special has divided Netflix — employees staged a walkout in late October while the CEO of the streaming giant, Ted Sarandos, publicly defended Chapelle.
Chapelle’s selection to open Netlfix’s first comedy festival could meet additional criticism and protest from Chapelle’s critics.
During “The Closer,” Chapelle called himself a TERF, or a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, and proclaimed that “gender is a fact,” while defending other homophobic or transphobic comments made by J.K. Rowling and rapper DaBaby.
Those defending Chapelle point out that during the special, the comedian said he would stop making jokes about the transgender community until “we are all laughing together” and that he “never had a problem with transgender people.”
In a video posted to social media on Oct. 25, Chapelle said he would not “bend to anybody’s demands.”
“For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supportive,” he said. “So I don’t know what this nonsense is about.”