Dave Chappelle reiterated during a recent stand-up performance that he is “more than willing” to meet with transgender Netflix employees regarding their concerns about his comedy special “The Closer” — as long as they meet his three “conditions.”
In a video posted Monday on Instagram, Chappelle addressed the long-brewing controversy surrounding his latest collaboration with Netflix, in which the veteran comic makes several transphobic remarks and other insensitive commentary.
During a walkout staged last week by trans Netflix employees and allies protesting the release of “The Closer,” rally organizer Ashlee Marie Preston claimed that Chappelle declined invitations to engage in “transformative dialogue” about the special.
“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak with transgender employees at Netflix and I refused,” Chappelle said in the Monday clip.
“That is not true. If they had invited me, I would have accepted it. Although I am confused about what we are speaking about. I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you wanted a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”
Representatives for Preston did not immediately respond Monday to the Los Angeles Times. It’s worth noting that Preston is not a Netflix employee but a media personality and activist appointed to lead last week’s rally.
A list of walkout demands reviewed by The Times asked the company to remove all references to and imagery of Chappelle — such as murals and posters — from the workplace and acknowledge the harm the special and Netflix allegedly have caused the trans community.
Organizers also requested that the streaming giant attach a disclaimer to “The Closer” saying it “contains transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, and hate speech.” They have not pushed the company to remove the special, which Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has repeatedly defended.
“I want everyone in the audience to know that, even though the media frames this as me versus everyone in that community, that is not what it is,” Chappelle continued in the Instagram video.
“Do not blame the [LGBTQ] community for any of this s—. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interest, and what I can say and what I cannot say. For the record — and I need you to know this — everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”
Chappelle also claimed during his routine that his new documentary, “Untitled,” has been dropped by film festivals amid the “Closer” fallout. According to the comedian, “Not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival … will touch” the doc in the wake of the backlash.
Later in the set, Chappelle took a dig at fellow comedian Hannah Gadsby, who spoke out against “The Closer” after Sarandos touted Gadsby’s collaborations with Netflix as an example of positive LGBTQ+ representation on the streaming platform.
“Hey Ted Sarandos! Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess,” Gadsby wrote earlier this month on Instagram in response to a leaked internal email from Sarandos asserting that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
“Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view,” Gadsby said.
On Monday, Chappelle insulted Gadsby while laying out the terms upon which he would agree to speak with trans Netflix staffers about his special.
“To the transgender community: I am more than willing to give you an audience,” Chappelle said. “But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands. And if you want to meet with me, I would 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. 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.”
While speaking to reporters the morning of the Netflix employee walkout, Preston pushed back against Chappelle’s attempt to frame criticism of “The Closer” as an example of “cancel culture.”
“I want to make it very clear that this isn’t an instance of ‘cancel culture,’ because I’ve invited Dave Chappelle to have transformative dialogue with us on multiple occasions, and he has made it clear that it is not of interest to him,” Preston said.
“This isn’t cancel culture but an avoidance of accountability, when we’ve invited you to be a part of the repair that it takes to — not only heal culture — but to move all of us forward.”