Dave Chappelle continues to use the Netflix controversy and transgender community as a punchline.
Comments the comedian made about trans people in his special The Closer sparked backlash earlier this month — and it’s far from over. At a Thursday night standup show in New Orleans, which he co-headlined with fellow pot-stirrer Joe Rogan, he poked fun at being cancelled amid the backlash (again). He also made new trans jokes.
“I haven’t been in this much trouble in my life,” Chappelle, 48, quipped early in the show, according to Rolling Stone, which noted he went on to spend his hour at the mic roasting so-called “PC culture.”
Local outlet NOLA.com reports Chappelle bragged to the the sold-out crowd of 17,000, “In the middle of me being cancelled, we broke the attendance record” at the Smoothie King Center where the arena show took place.
Chappelle, who now-infamously said in his latest special for the streamer that “gender is a fact” and went on to defend Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling amid allegations of her being transphobic, told the crowd he’d had “the worst three weeks of my life” after being accused of being transphobic and homophobic. However, the star, who has the support of Netflix, has stood by his remarks.
During the show, Chappelle “lit up one cigarette after another as he mounted a defense — and gleefully tossed more fuel on the fire,” in the form of more trans jokes, according to NOLA.com.
The outlet ticked them off, starting with a moment in the show where an audience member offered Chappelle a sip of beer and he declined — for fear it might contain “transgender formula.”
Another was after the audience booed one of his jokes about football. He responded, “Don’t go all trans on me.”
His bodyguards were there and someone asked why he needed them to be present during the show. “Because these transgenders are trying to kill me!” was his reported reply.
Fox News had Chappelle’s apparent kicker at the end of the show. As he wrapped up, he told audience members if they see a transgender person on the street, they should buy them a cup of coffee.
“When they ask you why you’re doing that for them, tell them Dave Chappelle says hello,” Chappelle said.
Chappelle also told the audience he thinks his critics “did something in their lives they can’t forgive themselves for” and should look within instead of coming for him. “Whatever you did, forgive yourself.” He also said of the controversy “made a lot of white people angry.”
As for Rogan, his time on stage included him addressing taking horse deworming medicine for COVID-19, which is not an FDA-approved treatment. “This is my advice: Don’t listen to my advice,” he told the masses. Rogan also made gender jokes, including one about being at TSA security in the airport when a female agent called over a male agent for a pat down. “Did you just assume my gender?” he asked, mock offended. “You have no idea what’s in my heart.”
Chappelle’s Netflix special immediately sparked controversy, including criticism from GLAAD and National Black Justice Coalition for jokes directed at the LGBTQ+ community, specifically trans people.
“Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact,” Chappelle said during the special.
On the topic of Rowling, he said she was “cancelled” because “effectually she said gender was a fact. The trans community got mad as s***, they started calling her a TERF. I’m team TERF. Gender is a fact.” (TERF means “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” whose views about feminism are seen as anti-trans.)
Chappelle also mocked the genitalia of trans women.
Netflix backed the comic amid the backlash, leading to a walkout at the company and a rally which drew the support of hundreds of activists and allies including Elliot Page, a trans star on Netflix’s Umbrella Academy.
“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.” (Gadsby is an Australian comic and a lesbian who has been outspoken in her criticism of the Chappelle controversy.)
Chappelle has had support beyond Netflix, under Ted Sarandos, who has said Chappelle’s jokes were a matter of artistic freedom — including support from Caitlyn Jenner.