Dave Chappelle Speaks of Controversy in New Netflix Speech

In the middle of the night, Netflix released Dave Chappelle’s new release. What is the meaning of a name?, Chappelle’s 40-minute lecture at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, on June 20, looks and feels special. It’s being promoted on Netflix Is a Joke Twitter and Instagram account as special. But it’s nothing special. This is a speech.

The speech took place at a renaming ceremony for the theater show at Chappelle’s high school alma mater after a the back reaction in November 2021 after the school announced its plans to rename the hall in Chappelle’s honor. The comedian held an aggressive Q&A with his students, during which they expressed their concerns about the transphobic content of Chappelle’s latest special, Closer. kappel answer by saying they “deserved an F for forgiveness” and dismissing their concerns as “immature.” The day after the Q&A, Chappelle words in an Instagram post that replacing the theater name with hers was not his “idea, goal, or desire” but, at the request of the school’s founder, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, he accepted. He also issued a challenge: “If you object to me accepting this honor, I encourage you to donate to the school by noting your objection. If you support a theater called ‘Chappelle,’ I encourage you to donate to the school, subject to your consent. Whichever opinion contributes the highest collective dollar amount wins.”

In a speech released by Netflix on July 7 — the covered by multiple outlets in June — Chappelle did not mention the outcome of this donation contest, but he deferred the honor of the theater named after him. Towards the end of the speech, Chappelle revealed the school’s new name, Theater for Freedom and Artistic Expression, and said, “Instead of naming me this theater, I want to convey my message to these students.”

The speech shared some overlap in content and tone with Chappelle’s 20 minute 2020 Instagram video unforgivable and the acceptance speech he gave while accepting the 2019 Mark Twain Award for American Humor (also available for viewing on Netflix). This stand-up offers sincere appreciation to the school and the educators who helped shape his artistic sensibilities, discussing his career journey after the impact of his decision not to extend his career. Chappelle Pertunjukan Show contract with Comedy Central in 2005, and comments on students attending the November Q&A and their reception Closer. “These kids say everything about gender and this, that, and everything else, but they don’t say anything about art,” she said. “I know the kids didn’t find the words. I’ve heard those words before. The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it becomes for me to say it. This has nothing to do with what you said, I can’t say. This all has to do with my rights and my freedom of artistic expression. It deserves to be protected for me, and it deserves to be protected for all those who strive in our noble profession. These children don’t understand that they are tools of oppression.”

Chappelle also defended Closer, arguing that the artistic overtones were removed from the specific discussion: “It would be like if you were reading the paper and saying, ‘Man was shot in the face by a six-legged bunny,’ but then they never tell you it’s Cartoon Bugs Bunny.” He went on to call the special a “masterpiece” and said, “I challenge all my colleagues to make it equal. They can’t, I’m sure. It will be decades before you’ll ever see someone in my genre as proficient as I am. I’m a talent. once in a lifetime.”

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