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Patton Oswalt explains himself after ‘nice’ Dave Chappelle post goes sideways

Patton Oswalt and Dave Chappelle are shown in separate photos.
Patton Oswalt, left, did a guest set during Dave Chappelle’s New Year’s Eve show in Seattle after wrapping up his own gig nearby.
(JB Lacroix / Getty Images, left; Eamonn M. McCormack / Getty Images)

Patton Oswalt doubled back over the weekend after attempting to have a “nice comment thread” on a photo he posted with longtime friend and fellow comedian Dave Chappelle.

Both comics were performing at Seattle Center venues Friday night — Oswalt at 3,000-seat McCaw Hall and Chappelle at 17,500-seat Climate Pledge Arena. Chappelle invited his longtime buddy over to do a guest set, after which Oswalt posted a photo of them together and a note in the spirit of the season.

“Finished me set at @mccawhall and got a text from @davechappelle,” he wrote Friday on Instagram. “Come over to the arena he’s performing in next door and do a guest set. Why not? I waved good-bye to this hell-year with a genius I started comedy with 34 years ago. He works an arena like he’s talking to one person and charming their skin off. Anyway, I ended the year with a real friend and a deep laugh. Can’t ask for much more.”

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Chappelle has been a lightning rod since he came under fire last year for making comments that many perceived as transphobic in his most recent Netflix special, “The Closer.” The fallout led to an employee walkout and protest within Netflix, along with pockets of support for Chappelle.

But commenters weren’t letting Oswalt off the hook for touting his friendship — let alone performing — with a quasi-canceled person, at least not without an explanation.

That explanation came the next day, but not before Oswalt had deleted a lot of comments on his original posting.

“I (naively) deleted a lot of posts in the comment thread — critical ones from LGBTQ writers AND ... posts by TERF/anti-trans orcs looking for clicks & giggles,” he wrote. “I wanted a ‘nice comment thread’ about the pic with my friend. Ugh.”

After trans Netflix employees protested, these stories explain the backlash sparked by Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, “The Closer.”

After praising Chappelle as “the funniest [comedian] I’ve ever met,” he wrote, “He’s refocused and refined ideas a lot of us took as settled about race & history & Life On Planet Earth and spun them around with a phrase or punchline. ...

“But we also 100% disagree about transgender rights & representation. I support trans peoples’ rights — ANYONE’S rights — to live safely in the world as their fullest selves,” Oswalt added. “For all the things he’s helped ME evolve on, I’ll always disagree with where he stands NOW on transgender issues.”

In “The Closer,” Chappelle said, among other things, that he supported “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who has been labeled a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, or TERF, for expressing her sentiments about transgender people.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community were not pleased with comedian Dave Chappelle co-signing J.K. Rowling’s transphobic remarks in his new Netflix special.

“J.K. Rowling wrote all the ‘Harry Potter’ books by herself ... and they canceled her because she said ... gender was a fact,” Chappelle said in the special. “And then the trans community got mad, and they started calling her a TERF. ... I shouldn’t speak on this because I am not a woman, nor am I a trans. But, as we’ve established, I am a feminist. ... I’m team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”

In Saturday’s post, Oswalt reflected on his own behavior in recent years.

“I also don’t believe a seeker like [Chappelle] is done evolving, learning. You know someone that long, see the struggles and changes, it’s impossible to cut them off. Impossible not to be hopeful and open and cheer them on,” he wrote.

Dave Chappelle is among 130 comedians — including Gabriel Iglesias’ historic performance at Dodger Stadium — tapped for the Netflix Is a Joke comedy fest.

“Also, I’ve been carrying a LOT of guilt about friends I’ve cut off, who had views with which I couldn’t agree, or changed in ways I couldn’t live with. Sometimes I wonder — did I and others cutting them off make them dig their heels in deeper, fuel their ignorance with a nitro-boost of resentment and spite?” Oswalt wondered. “I’m an LGBTQ ally. I’m a loyal friend. There’s friction in those traits that I need to reconcile myself.”

Oswalt added that he was “sorry, truly sorry” for not considering that his picture with Chappelle would spark feelings of hurt and betrayal in others. He said he’d been doing a lot of back-and-forth on Instagram that day and credited that with guiding his second post.

“So easy to think someone ELSE needs growth and miss the need in yourself,” he wrote. “Gonna keep trying.”


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