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Dave Chappelle sets ‘some conditions’ for meeting with trans Netflix employees

A man onstage holding a microphone
Dave Chappelle in his Netflix special “The Closer.”
(Mathieu Bitton / Netflix)

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 her personal invitations to engage in “transformative dialogue” about the special.

After Netflix employees staged a walkout over his special ‘The Closer,’ Dave Chappelle is standing ‘by his Art’ but will listen to what critics have to say.

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“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.”

It’s worth noting that Preston is not a Netflix employee but a media personality and activist appointed to lead last week’s rally. In a statement to The Times, Preston said she was unaware of any efforts made by the Netflix employee resource group Trans* to connect with Chappelle.

“I believed that perhaps the grief that the Black trans community was experiencing over the rampant murders of community members, and the grief that cis-hetero Black people were also experiencing over the senseless murders of Black people at the hands of law enforcement could potentially be the onramp toward much-needed dialogue around how we can heal and protect one other as a community,” Preston said of her attempts to contact Chappelle.

“I hoped I could persuade Dave to be an ally/accomplice to our community. ... I just wanted to have a heart to heart. I didn’t hear back. ... After seeing his latest response on [Instagram], the moment he said, ‘I said what I said,’ it became abundantly clear that he had no desire to engage in transformative dialogue or repair harm.”

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.

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

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.”

Three L.A. comics discuss whether Chappelle’s jokes were punching down or just needed some punching up.

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.

Emmy-winning comic Hannah Gadsby lambasted Netflix’s Ted Sarandos amid the fallout from Dave Chappelle’s new special, ‘The Closer.’

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.”

Trans Netflix employees and their allies gathered Wednesday in L.A. to protest Dave Chappelle’s new special. The comedian’s supporters showed up too.

Since the morning of the Netflix employee walkout, Preston has consistently pushed back against Chappelle’s attempt to frame criticism of “The Closer” as an example of “cancel culture.”

“The implication that somehow the Trans community and Netflix employees are to blame for why he can’t get his film picked up felt like a violent dog whistle for transphobic fans to come after us,” she said in a statement.

“The death threats and harassment have already been pouring in since the walkout. This steady insistence that we are conspiring to cancel Dave Chappelle is unfounded. Never have I or anyone from the Trans ERG at Netflix called for Dave Chappelle to be canceled.”


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