Dave Chappelle Is Under Fire For Jokes In Netflix Special The Closer

Another day, another controversy
By Rayiah Ross
Image: The Closer Netflix Special

Dave Chappelle has been under fire since the release of his Netflix comedy special, The Closer on October 5th. While addressing criticism about jokes made in his latest standup special, Dave Chappelle stirred up some more controversy within the trans and nonbinary communities. Dave Chappelle has recently reiterated his offer to meet with transgender employees at Netflix offended by his latest special, but he has some conditions.

The “Joke” Made in The Closer

Dave Chapelle has always been known to make lewd jokes, but this one pushed audiences too far. The joke that upset audiences are one in which he compares being trans to wearing blackface. He makes jokes about transgender people’s genitalia, and declares he’s “team TERF” — which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist — because he believes “gender is a fact.” He compares the struggles of the Black community directly with the LGBTQ community.

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Netflix Faces Backlash

Chappelle’s jokes offended the transgender community to the point that GLAAD condemned it and employees of the streaming service walked out in protest. Employees who walked out had called for the company to take measures that would keep Netflix from promoting misinformation about trans and nonbinary communities in the future A crowd gathered outside the streamer’s West Hollywood offices to denounce both Chappelle and the company’s chief executive, Ted Sarandos, who has stood by “The Closer” even after employees expressed their concerns.

In their list of demands to Sarandos, the Netflix employee resource group wrote in a news release that they want the company to add disclaimers to transphobic content, make investments in trans creators, and recruit trans people to work in Netflix leadership roles. The group did not demand that “The Closer” be removed from the platform.

 Some supporters of Chappelle also attended the rally, clashing with protesters as they urged Netflix not to limit speech and held up signs with messages such as “Jokes are funny.” 

Dave Chappelle’s Response 

In videos from a gig in Nashville on Sunday posted to Chappelle’s verified Instagram account, Chappelle responded to the backlash he received.


“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience,” Chappelle said. “But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands. And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing. And thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”

Fellow comic tweeted Sean Kent tweeted that it was “[Totally] unnecessary to take a shot at Hannah Gadsby and sick his internet trolls on her.”

Gadsby had earlier addressed Netflix co-chief executive officer Ted Sarandos — citing her as an example of the diverse artists featured on the streaming service.


“Hey Ted Sarandos! Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess,” Gadsby wrote in a note on her verified Instagram account.

It’s safe to say that Dave Chapelle’s long history of controversy won’t be ending any time soon.