Dave Chappelle Will Open Netflix Comedy Festival Despite Controversy

Comedian Dave Chappelle will open Netflix’s first-ever comedy festival next year, despite the controversy he’s attracted in recent months. The often divisive former star of Chappelle’s Show has been at the forefront of intense debate and condemnation ever since his comedy special, The Closer, was released on Netflix this past October. The special – Chapelle’s sixth and final outing for the streaming giant - brought substantial criticism of the comedian’s attitude toward the transgender community.

Though The Closer made many of Chappelle’s opinions on the subject of trans rights clear, it wasn’t the first time that the 48-year-old’s comedy has been accused of transphobia. With The Age of Spin in 2017, Chappelle began to make his thoughts on the subject matter known. The initial response from the trans community and its allies was one of disappointment, but with each subsequent Chappelle special, the comedian almost seemed to welcome the increasingly frustrated backlash he was receiving. This culminated with The Closer, in which Chappelle’s stand up routine dedicated a significant amount of time to the topic, voicing opinions that many felt were hurtful and grossly uninformed. As a result, the LGBTQ+ community and its allies rose up in protest of Netflix and Chappelle.

Related: The Controversy Over Dave Chappelle's New Special "The Closer" Explained

Despite a lengthy list of demands from protesters with regard to how Netflix should handle the controversies created by The Closer, it’s now been confirmed that Chappelle will open the streamer’s first ever comedy festival. As The Los Angeles Times reports, Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival will bring together more than 130 different artists for a comedy lover’s dream come true. The event will take place from April 28-May 8, 2022 at venues in and around Los Angeles. For his part, Chappelle will open the festival on April 28 at the Hollywood Bowl, with a comedy event called Dave Chappelle and Friends.

With significant pressure having been put on Netflix by The Closer’s protesters to take action against Chappelle, it seems the streamer has doubled down on their love for the comedian instead. This isn’t to say that Chappelle previously faced the controversy alone – a large percentage of fans and those who consider his performance in The Closer to be a matter of free speech remain devotees. But for those who consider Chappelle’s words to be hate speech, the idea of him having the right to say whatever he wants about the trans community remains a highly contentious issue. At the very least, for Netflix to turn around and make Chappelle the opening act of one of the biggest comedy festivals of all time definitely sends a certain message.

In the years since Dave Chappelle first became one of the most popular comedians in the world, there has clearly been a change in his comedy. The routines have largely turned into lectures with only the occasional joke thrown in. At some point, Chappelle became a spokesman for a generation, and while this has certainly been welcome with regard to issues like racism in America and police violence, his takes on the trans community often feel like intentional attempts at generating controversy and attention. As for the Netflix Is A Joke festival, it’s safe to say that Chappelle’s appearance will draw plenty of criticism and protest.

Next: Dave Chappelle's Best Comedy Specials

Source: The Los Angeles Times

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