Dave Chappelle’s high school visit sparks student backlash
Dave Chappelle paid his alma mater a surprise visit earlier this week, and a published report suggests it wasn’t all fun and games.
According to Politico, close to 600 students from D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts packed into an auditorium Tuesday to hear the comedian discuss his controversial Netflix special “The Closer,” which has been blasted for transphobic remarks and other insensitive commentary and sparked a cascade of backlash against Chappelle and the streaming giant.
During a Q&A session, a student reportedly said, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish; you handled it like a child.”
“My friend, with all due respect, I don’t believe you could make one of the decisions I have to make on a given day,” Chappelle reportedly responded.
Spokespeople for Chappelle and the school did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The students who spoke to Politico did not go on the record, citing fear of retribution from the school.
After another student stepped to the mic and asked a different antagonizing question. Chappelle reportedly answered by saying, “I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I’m better than all of you. I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.”
Another student reportedly shouted “Your comedy kills” from the audience, and Chappelle shot back with “N— are killed every day.”
The school had previously postponed an event to rename its theater after him over concerns about student responses to the special.
Before leaving the school, Chappelle reportedly gave out tickets to that evening’s screening of his documentary “Untitled” — which the comedian has been hosting pop-up screenings for in various cities — as well as 600 Thanksgiving meals for students and staff.
The backlash over “The Closer” began in October when Hollywood stars, talent and allies spoke out. The fallout divided the comedy community, forced Netflix into a corner over its handling of the situation, and sparked protests by transgender Netflix employees and their allies.