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Chappelle is unapologetic in his first public statement on 'The Closer' controversy

Dave Chappelle during the Mark Twain award at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Chappelle has spoken out about the controversy over his Netflix special <em>The Closer</em> in a new standup video posted to Instagram.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post via Getty Images
Dave Chappelle during the Mark Twain award at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Chappelle has spoken out about the controversy over his Netflix special The Closer in a new standup video posted to Instagram.

Dave Chappelle is speaking out about the controversy surrounding his recent Netflix comedy special The Closer — saying he is open to meeting with LGBTQ employees of the company who are critical of the special, but says he will not be "bending to anyone's demands."

In a video clip posted to InstagramMonday, Chappelle remains unapologetic about the special, which includes transphobic material that has angered many in the LGBTQ community, at Netflix and beyond.

"I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I'm the only one that can't go to the office anymore," he said in the five-minute video.

Chappelle was referring to pushback from Netflix employees who participated in a walkout last week after the company stood by the comedian and allowed The Closer to remain on the streaming platform.

Netflix also recentlyfired an employee connected to the blowback over how Chappelle and the comedy special are being handled. Netflix officials allege the employee leaked "confidential, commercially sensitive information" to Bloomberg.

The controversy over The Closer — which has been available on Netflix since early October — has been brewing for weeks. In the special, Chappelle jokes about trans women and their genitalia and defends J.K. Rowlingagainst critics who say she is transphobic and more.

Earlier this month in an interview with CNN, several trans comedians said they felt that Chappelle's comments were an example of "punching down" on those with less power and how the comedian continues to "scapegoat trans people."

But according to Chappelle in Monday's video, "everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supportive. So I don't know what this nonsense is about."

If Netflix employees were to meet with him, Chappelle says he has three conditions for them: "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." Gadsby is an Australian comedian and queer woman.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.

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