This is a story that just won’t end. Why should it? Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, The Closer, is a gold mine for both Netflix and Chappelle, too. Chappelle’s high school alma mater has jumped into the mix and it is receiving lots of publicity it would not otherwise receive.
Chappelle’s brand of comedy sets off everyone and that is how he likes it. What makes Chappelle unique is that he is an equal opportunity offender. Most comedians lean liberal and it shows in their routines. In his last two comedy specials for Netflix, there has been criticism of Chappelle for his jokes about transgenderism. The left has tried to cancel him over it but he refuses to allow that to happen, to his credit. Netflix employees demanded the streaming service stop showing his special. When the CEO defended Chappelle’s brand of humor, some employees threatened a walkout. Chappelle offered to meet with disgruntled Netflix employees but a meeting was never set up. One employee was fired for leaking internal information. Chappelle supporters crashed a walkout. Netflix employees filed charges against the company. Finally, it looks like this dispute is coming to a close as the employees dropped their complaints and one employee resigned.
During all the hubbub, Chappelle’s planned fundraiser for his high school alma mater, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C., was at first canceled and then re-scheduled for nest spring. The school’s theatre is to be renamed in honor of its most famous alumna. Chappelle has raised millions of dollars for the school in past years, both from personal donations and by fundraising. The school’s woke student body objected and the school administration caved to them.
Chappelle made a surprise visit to the school this week, camera crew in tow. Politico reports that the school’s 600 students gathered in the auditorium to hear what Chappelle had to say. He held a question and answer session with them, specifically wanting to hear from students who have a problem with him over the transgender issue. Much to their dismay, Chappelle didn’t apologize. He spoke to them directly and along the way, he dropped the N-word.
During a Q&A session, one student stepped to the mic and called Chappelle a “bigot,” adding, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child,” according to two students present. The comments were confirmed by Chappelle’s spokesperson CARLA SIMS.
NO APOLOGIES: Chappelle responded, as recalled the next day by the students, “My friend, with all due respect, I don’t believe you could make one of the decisions I have to make on a given day.” That peeved some students who were hoping for an apology or some semblance of one from Chappelle.
In response to another antagonistic question, Chappelle roughly told the student body of artists: “I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I’m better than all of you. I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.”
The students recalled that another student in the audience shouted at him, “Your comedy kills,” and Chappelle shot back, “N—— are killed every day.” He then asked, “The media’s not here, right?”
One father complained about Chappelle’s use of the word. “As a parent, I have to say I have a real problem. … He was being dead serious and using the n-word on the record. What kind of judgment is the school showing to allow that?” Chappelle’s spokesperson, Carla Sims, answered the complaint by noting Chappelle’s work for the school.
Sims, the Chappelle spokesperson, responded: “They are complaining that he talked and said the n-word. If anything, Dave is putting the school on the map.” Chappelle has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Duke Ellington and brought A-list celebrities such as BRADLEY COOPER and CHRIS TUCKER to its campus.
C’mon. The vernacular used by Chappelle was that of common street language by a large part of the black community. It’s been normalized by black comedians for years now. I find it hard to believe that the students even batted an eye over Chappelle’s use of the word. I doubt the school condones it but the fact that it happened is not a huge surprise, is it? It was an off-the-cuff response to a kid telling him that his comedy “kills”. It’s more publicity for the school and Chappelle. Chappelle had his camera crew with him and no doubt they captured that for his next Netflix special.
One student complained about “a huge power imbalance of this grown man and his camera crew — and these 14- to 18 year-olds without their phones, just high school kids.” The students had to lock their phones in special pouches so as to prevent unauthorized recordings.
The downside of Chappelle’s concentration with students who were critical of him was that the students who support him weren’t able to step up and say so, whether out of fear of retaliation from other students or feeling denied of the opportunity to do so.
In the end, students said Chappelle “softened up”, especially as he addressed death threats against some students who protested him.
According to the students, Chappelle seemed to soften up as he wound down. Turning to the camera, he spoke out against death threats some students have received since protesting him. The school has responded by increasing security and barring students from leaving campus for lunch.
“His whole tone changed,” one of the students said. “He said, ‘This is my family and whether they know it or not I love these kids. … I don’t want to hear about any threats to these kids. These kids don’t deserve that.’”
“He was really kind,” the student added. “If [only] he [had] acted that way the whole time. … There was no reason to be mean to us. He was just laughing at kids.”
We live in crazy, hypersensitive times. Sims said Chappelle was expecting forgiveness from the students but he won’t apologize. “He said these kids deserve an F for forgiveness.” But, “Give them some space to grow. They are going to say things that are immature.” True to form, Chappelle gave three tickets to each student for the screening of his documentary “Untitled” at Capital One Arena that night. He also gave 600 meals to students and school staff. That school should be thankful for Chappelle instead of trying to distance itself from him during a time of controversy in his career.