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‘Transgender maniacs’: Dave Chappelle slams protesters after show postponed amid backlash

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The comedian also defended Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who has come under fire for allegedly transphobic comments

Comedian Dave Chappelle’s show at a Minneapolis venue on Wednesday, July 20, was canceled hours before he was scheduled to appear amid backlash from staff and the transgender community over his recent jokes about them. Chappelle, 48, was scheduled to put on a sold-out show at First Avenue, a Minneapolis venue. Tickets started at $129.50 and the venue had sold 1,500 tickets, generating nearly $200,000 in revenue.

However, First Avenue announced in a statement that Chappelle would be performing Wednesday night at a different location in Minneapolis rather than at the venue. The venue suffered a setback for booking the legendary comedian in the months following his 2021 Netflix special The Closer for a sold-out surprise performance, in which Chappelle cracked jokes about the LGBTQ+ community following previous allegations of homophobia and transphobia. community made.

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“To staff, artists and our community, we hear you and we’re sorry,” First Avenue said in a statement posted to social media less than three hours before the show was scheduled to begin. “We know we have to hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we’re going to let you down. We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a space, it has meaning beyond our walls,” the statement said.

The venue, best known for appearing in Prince’s 1984 film Purple Rain, added that while it believes in diverse voices and freedom of artistic expression, “we’ve lost sight of the implications,” which Chappelle’s posting to the municipality would have. “We know there are some who will disagree with this decision; Feel free to send feedback,” First Avenue wrote. Her about-face was the result of a Change.org petition signed by 125 people who complained that Chappelle was transphobic and employees who refused to appear to the man attending the event.

During the show, Chappelle said he was disappointed that First Avenue hadn’t shown more strength against the “awakened mob.” He also laughed at the transgender activists protesting outside, calling them “crazy”.

According to a review of the show by local newspaper The Star Tribune, he said, “I can see a transgender hit squad from a mile away,” causing the crowd of fans to laugh. Telephones were not allowed within the event.

As part of “The Closer,” Chappelle joked about transgender genitalia, said “gender is a fact,” and told his audience he was on “Team TERF,” an acronym for a trans exclusionary radical feminist. The comedian also defended Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who has been criticized for making statements deemed transphobic. Chappelle has joked about the transgender community in the past, including in his 2019 special Sticks & Stones.

GLAAD, a media watchdog group, previously accused the Chappelle program of having “anti-LGBTQ content” that violates Netflix’s policy of banning programs that incite hatred or violence. The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights advocacy group, urged Netflix in 2021 to immediately withdraw the special and “apologize directly to the transgender community.”

Netflix co-head Ted Sarandos has repeatedly defended the comedian, saying “creative freedom” is one of the reasons the company wouldn’t drop the special. Sarandos has acknowledged that while some people find Chappelle’s stand-up “vicious,” “our members enjoy it and it’s an important part of our content offering.”

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Varsity Theater to take a stand against Chappelle, many chanting “Trans rights matter!” and holding signs that read “Transphobia is no joke.” A Chappelle fan was also hit by an egg by a man who protesters do not believe was part of the demonstration. Many people took to Twitter to express their disappointment at the situation.

MnUprising is now compared to white fascists for bullying and lobbying the theater. The group MnUprising describes themselves as “voices amplifying from occupied indigenous lands”. It was founded in August 2020.

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Journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote, “This Minneapolis theater booked and promoted a live show by Dave Chappelle. Damage.” The show will now go to another theater.” “In the 1980s, it was the Moral Majority and the social conservatives on the right who regularly objected to artists’ and comedians’ shows, demanding that the shows be canceled or banned on the grounds that they were ‘harming the community’ . left that does this,” he added.

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