Dave Chappelle might have landed an Emmy nomination for his controversial Netflix special The Closer, but residents of Minneapolis aren’t laughing. Hours before the comedian was set to perform at coveted venue First Avenue on Wednesday (July 20), Chappelle’s gig was cancelled by management after LGBTQ+ advocates protested the appearance on social media, citing his perceived transphobic remarks in recent stand-up material. Select staff members also took a stance against the venue, reportedly refusing to work during Chappelle’s performance.
As the show at First Avenue was cancelled, Chappelle’s performance was moved to nearby Varsity Theater.
“The First Avenue team and you have worked hard to make our venues the safest spaces in the country, and we will continue with that mission,” an announcement from First Avenue read.
“We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have. We know there are some who will not agree with this decision; you are welcome to send feedback.”
On Wednesday evening, Varsity Theater announced the shift of venues, mentioning that Chappelle’s new show would “be a phone-free experience.”
Tickets for Chappelle’s original show at First Avenue released on July 18, selling out within minutes for the 1,550-capacity venue, according to Deadline.
Since the release of The Closer last year, Chappelle has stood by his remarks of the transgender community, calling the special “a masterpiece” in his What’s in a Name? stand-up Netflix performance last month. During a recent sit-down with students at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., where Chappelle graduated high school, the comedian continued to defend his material.
“The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it,” said Chappelle during the naming ceremony of the school’s theater. “And it has nothing to do with what you’re saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my right, my freedom, of artistic expression.”
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