Controversy continues to follow Dave Chappelle. A Minnesota venue canceled a previously scheduled performance from the comedian after facing online backlash, including a Change.org petition against Chappelle’s booking, NBC News reports.
First Avenue in Minneapolis, the venue where Chappelle was scheduled to perform, pulled the comedian’s set on Wednesday, the same day he was supposed to take the stage there. The venue posted an announcement on Twitter, where they wrote, “To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry.”
They continued, “We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down. We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a room, but meaningful beyond our walls. … We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have.”
After First Avenue canceled Chappelle’s show, his set was moved to another local venue, the Varsity Theater, where tickets purchased for the First Avenue show were honored.
The cancellation came after online outrage in response to Chappelle’s booking, which was protested in a Change.org petition titled First Ave: Don’t Platform Transphobe Dave Chappelle!. The petition, which has reached 125 of its 200 signature goal at publication time, states, “Dave Chappelle has a record of being dangerous to trans people, and First Avenue has a duty to protect the community.
“Chappelle’s actions uphold a violent heteronormative culture and directly violate First Avenue’s code of conduct,” it continues. “If staff and guests are held to this standard, performers should be too.”
Chappelle was the target of widespread condemnation last fall after Netflix premiered his stand-up special The Closer, which included jokes about the transgender community, specifically trans women. His comments prompted an employee walkout at Netflix, and Chappelle was later attacked onstage during his set at the Netflix comedy festival. The suspect claimed he was motivated in part by Chappelle’s anti-trans jokes.
Despite the massive backlash, Chappelle has remained largely unswayed. Shortly after The Closer premiered and began to generate the wrong kind of buzz, Chappelle laughed off the criticism, saying at an October screening, “If this is what being canceled is about, I love it.”