COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Comedian Dave Chappelle had a lot to say in a roughly 5-minute video posted to his Instagram account that now has more than 1 million views.
He began by addressing the recent controversy over his Netflix special “The Closer,” in which comments he made about transgender people led to a protest and employee walkout outside the streaming company’s headquarters in Los Angeles.
“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused,” said Chappelle. “That is not true. If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we are speaking about. I said what I said and boy I heard what you said. My God. How could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I am the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”
Chappelle went on to suggest that the true debate is over his right to free speech and that the LBGTQ community is not at the center of the dispute.
“I want everyone in this audience to know that it, even though the media frames this that it’s me versus that community, that is not what it is,” he said. “Do not blame the LBGTQ community for any of this ****. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say. For the record and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”
The comedian then switched subjects and talked about living and working during the pandemic at his home in rural Ohio.
“Summer 2020, when the whole world shut down, I was outside doing shows,” he said. “My neighbor had a cornfield and he let me throw shows there and people came from all over the country. Some people came from around the world to see those shows. The best comedians on Earth came to my home and broke bread with me and we lived our lives and found a way to keep moving forward.”
Chappelle continued, revealing that his life during the height of the COVID-19 was recorded and has been turned into a movie that is now being shunned by the film industry.
“I made a whole documentary about it,” he said. “The first night of those shows was a piece that some of you might have seen, it was called 846 and dealt with the death, the murder, of George Floyd. This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States and some of those invitations I accepted. And when this controversy came out about ‘The Closer’ they began disinviting me from these film festivals. And now today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film. Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix — he’s the only one who didn’t cancel me yet.”
In an offer to his critics, Chappelle said he would meet with the transgender community, but on his terms.
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, you will not summon me,” he said. “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 and a time of my choosing. And thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gatsby is not funny.”
His dig at Australian comedian, writer and actress, Hannah Gatsby, who rose to prominence with her own Netflix stand-up show, led to her name trending on Twitter, with many coming to her defense.
In the last portion of his online video, Chappelle announced that his documentary will be shown as a special engagement in cities around the country.
“I desperately want people to see this movie but I understand why investors would be nervous,” he said. “Since nobody will touch it, I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I will make it available for all of you in 10 American cities going on sale in the next few days. You will be able to see this movie in its entirety and you can see what they’re trying to obstruct you from seeing. And you can judge for yourself, but you cannot have this conversation and exclude my voice from it. That is only fair. You have to answer the question, ‘Am I canceled or not?’”
A press release confirmed that Columbus, Ohio is included in the list of locations the “‘Untitled’ Dave Chappelle Documentary” will be shown in a special screening. Tickets are on sale now.