Netflix’s Dave Chappelle stand-up controversy

The Los Gatos-based company is dealing with mass employee walkouts, criticism from the LGBTQ and comedy communities and threats of subscription cancellations, all following its release of a Dave Chappelle stand-up special — his sixth in the past four years — that has widely been condemned as harmful to the transgender community.

The hour-long special, titled “The Closer,” was released Oct. 5, serving as the end of the comedian’s multi-million dollar deal with the mega-streaming platform. It’s seemingly the most incendiary the comic has been in his musings of race, gender and sexuality. In it, he claims that the largely “white” LGBT movement has moved past the Black civil rights movement, offers his public support for J.K. Rowling for her anti-trans views and continues his rants on the #MeToo movement. 

Chappelle also alludes to his 2019 stint at the Punch Line, a San Francisco comedy club, with Daphne Dorman, a software engineer and trans comic who opened for him and died by suicide in October of that year. The bit is intended as a heart-to-heart closer for the show, one that Dorman’s family says she would have supported, but for trans activists, largely landed as a disingenuous defense. 

March 21, 2017: Dave Chappelle’s comeback comes to Netflix

As part of a behemoth $20 million-per-special deal, Chappelle releases two new specials back-to-back. They’re something of an official comeback after the legendary comic walked away from “Chappelle’s Show” a decade earlier. In both specials, Variety reports at the time, Chappelle uses anti-trans slurs, but they are largely embraced by critics as a welcome return-to-form for the comic.

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