Dave Chappelle Defends Transphobic Netflix Special: 'I Said What I Said'

·3 min read

Comedian Dave Chappelle stood by his Netflix special, “The Closer,” which has been criticized for its transphobic material, saying in a new video: “I said what I said.”

In a video posted online Monday by Chappelle, the comedian performs new standup material, first refuting claims that he wouldn’t meet with transgender Netflix employees following their pushback on the company’s support of the controversial special.

“If they had invited me, I would have accepted,” Chappelle says of the trans employees at Netflix. “Although I am confused about what we would be speaking about. I said what I said, and, boy, I heard what you said.”

“You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office anymore,” he added to cheers from a packed audience.

It’s worth noting that ​​Netflix fired B. Pagels-Minor, an employee who was one of the leaders of the Trans* employee resource group at the company and helped organize a walkout last week. Netflix claimed it was because Pagels-Minor had leaked confidential information.

Netflix also suspended and then reinstated a trans employee who spoke out against Chappelle’s special.

Last week, Netflix employees and allies walked out of the streaming company’s Los Angeles offices, and others joined in a rally to protest the company’s support of Chappelle’s special.

“We are here today not because we don’t know how to take a joke,” organizer and trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston said. “We’re here because we’re concerned that the jokes are taking lives.”

In his new video Monday, Chappelle directly addressed the transgender community: “To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience. But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands.”

“And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions,” Chappelle said, laughing, saying they must first watch his entire special, they must “come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing” and “must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”

Earlier this month, comedian Gadsby, who is lesbian, slammed Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos for naming her in a message to employees justifying the company’s support of Chappelle’s special.

“We are working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story,” Sarandos wrote in the internal message, according to Variety. “So we have ‘Sex Education,’ ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ ‘Control Z,’ Hannah Gadsby and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix.”

In Monday’s video, Chappelle implied he was being “canceled” due to the pushback over the transphobic material in his special.

“Do not blame the LGBTQ community for any of this shit. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say,” he said, adding that people have been “disinviting me from these film festivals” and “nobody will touch this film.”

“Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix. He’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet,” Chappelle said.

Chappelle’s post lists 10 cities where people can buy tickets to see a screening of his upcoming “Untitled” documentary and performances by him.

“Am I canceled or not?” Chappelle yelled at the end of the video, to cheers. “Then let’s go!”

Within four hours of posting, Chappelle’s video had more than 300,000 views.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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