Dave Chappelle Responds to Anti-Trans Backlash on Latest ‘Midnight Miracle’ Episode

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Photo Credit: Brian Stukes/WireImage

On the latest episode of podcast The Midnight Miracle, Dave Chappelle discussed the response to his perceived anti-trans jokes.

Dave Chappelle has spoken out on the backlash regarding his perceived anti-trans jokes on the latest episode of podcast The Midnight Miracle. Alongside co-hosts Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey, the comic, 49, first discussed the cancellation of his show at Minneapolis venue First Avenue last July.

“I guess apparently they had made a pledge to the public at large that they would make their club a safe space for all people, and that they would ban anything they deemed transphobic,” Chappelle said on the podcast. “This is a wild stance for an artistic venue to take, especially one that’s historically a punk rock venue.”

The Washington, D.C. native ultimately performed at a different Minneapolis venue, the Varsity Theater, where a large group of protestors gathered.

“These were grown people of various genders and gender identities,” Chappelle said. “They threw eggs. They threw eggs at the [fans] who were lined up to see the show.”

“One lady was so mad with the protesters, she picked up a police barricade,” Chappelle continued. “You ever seen one? They look like a bike rack. This bitch picked that barricade up by herself and and threw it at the crowd. I gotta tell you, it’s an amazing feat of strength for a woman.”

The show at the Varsity Theater went on and Dave Chappelle was greeted by a standing ovation when the performance began.

“When I walked on stage, it was a huge ovation because suddenly going to see a comedy show was this huge act of defiance,” Chappelle said. “I don’t think anyone had any malicious intent. In fact, one of the things that these people, the trans and their surrogates, always say is that my jokes are somehow gonna be the root cause of some impending violence that they feel like is inevitable for my jokes. But I gotta tell you, as abrasive as they were, the way they were protesting, throwing eggs at people, throwing barricades, cussing and screaming, [none of my fans] beat ‘em up. In fact, the people in the crowd would just say, ‘We love you. Like what are you talking about?’”

Criticism towards Chappelle intensified following his 2021 Netflix special The Closer, where he made controversial jokes about transgender people.

“Now I have a belief that the gay community is not monolithic, and I think that in regards to me, that there’s probably a variety of opinions throughout that,” Chappelle said. “But there’s a thing they do where they deliberately obscure what I think they believe is the intent of my work to make a moment of it that I don’t know that the work necessarily merits. You know what I mean?”

The comic summarized his stance by adding, “I’m not even mad that they take issue with my work. Good, fine. Who cares? What I take issue with is the idea that because they don’t like it, I’m not allowed to say it.”

“Art is a nuanced endeavor,” he continued. “I have a belief that they are trying to take the nuance out of speech in American culture, that they’re making people speak as if they’re either on the right or the left. Everything seems absolute, and any opinion I respect is way more nuanced than these binary choices they keep putting in front of us. I don’t see the world in red or blue.”

“Trying to silence a person like me, I don’t think it has anything to do with being loved,” Chapelle concluded. “They want to be feared. ‘If you say this, then we will punish you. We’ll come to First Avenue and fuck your show up and we’ll come to the Varsity Theater and fuck your show up.’ And they just don’t get to do that.”

The Midnight Miracle is available to stream on Luminary.

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