Categories: Culture

Dave Chappelle Went to His Old High School & Had a Rough Time

Dave Chappelle went back and forth with students over his latest Netflix special The Closer.

Dave Chappelle went to his alma mater Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. and met with students on Tuesday, November 23rd. According to reports, the meeting was contentious. 

According to Politico, Chappelle made an unannounced visit to his old school and spoke for about an hour with around 580 students. The visit comes on the heels of the school postponing a fundraiser for a theater named after the comedian after students threatened to protest the event. Chappelle came with the cameras rolling, even though he asked the students in attendance to put their phones away. (Which is standard with Chappelle shows.)

Chappelle was reportedly announced with a mix of applause and boos. There was a question and answer portion and that’s where the issues came up. A student called Chappelle a “bigot” and said that Chappelle handled the controversy around his latest Netflix special The Closer “like a child.” (The question was confirmed by Chappelle’s PR rep Carla Sims.)

Chappelle reportedly responded by saying:

“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.” 

Things continued to devolve from there. According to students Politico talked with, the crowd felt like Chappelle laughed at students’ questions or didn’t respond seriously to them. At one point, a student left and Chappelle said, “Of course she left early.”

At another point, Chappelle told the students:

“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.”

Although the meet-up was tense, Chappelle came with gifts. The comedian gave out 600 Thanksgiving meals and tickets to a screening of his new documentary Untitled.

Andrew Yang, who Chappelle endorsed during his presidential run in 2020, came to the comic’s defense after the story started to make waves. On Twitter, he wrote:

“The press hit job on his visiting his high school is awful. Successful alum who fundraises for school returns, speaks to students and gives everyone a free meal for Thanksgiving. But of course in 2021 an obvious positive gesture is framed negatively in the media.”


Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes in coverage centered around music, pop culture, and politics. Email:

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Dimas Sanfiorenzo

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