Dave Chappelle Benefit Show for Yellowstone Sells Out Amid Controversy

A three-night benefit concert to support communities in Montana impacted by the June flooding that resulted in the closing of parts of Yellowstone National Park quickly sold out on Tuesday. Dave Chappelle, who continues to be embroiled in controversy, is scheduled to perform at one of the shows on August 14.

Musician John Mayer, who owns a residence in Montana, put together the Rise for the River concert event and said proceeds will benefit a new fund called the Southwest Montana Flood Relief Fund that serves Park and Madison counties. Proceeds will go toward emergency shelter, drinking water, food and clothing for those impacted by the flooding. Though all three concerts—which will be held August 8, August 14 and August 21—sold out, those wishing to support the cause can still make online donations.

Chappelle has been subjected to heavy criticism since the October 2021 release of his Netflix standup special The Closer. Some of the material in that special has been condemned as transphobic, and he continues to experience backlash. Last week, a Minneapolis venue canceled a show by the comedian hours before he was set to take the stage. The performance was relocated to another Minneapolis site, and Chappelle later joked about "cancel culture" when he appeared as a surprise opener in New York City on Saturday for a performance by Kevin Hart and Chris Rock.

Chappelle's history of jokes that anger the LGBTQ+ community was brought up by social media users with the announcement of the Rise for the River show.

"Sad to see an unfunny transphobic grifter on this," read one Twitter post about the event.

Dave Chappelle performs
A concert event featuring controversial comedian Dave Chappelle that benefits those affected by last month's flooding that closed part of Yellowstone National Park quickly sold out. In this photo, Chappelle speaks onstage during the Dave Chappelle theater dedication ceremony at Duke Ellington School of the Arts on June 20 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images

This week, Chappelle is scheduled to perform Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Santa Rosa, California, and LGBTQ+ activists in the city are calling for the three sold-out shows at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts to be canceled.

"Espousing the transphobia he does, it normalizes transphobia," Jennifer Rihl, a member of the TransLife Sonoma County organization, told local ABC affiliate KGO-TV about the protests against his Santa Rosa performances.

Rise for the River will also feature Bob Weir, formerly of the Grateful Dead, for its August 8 show. Mayer is a member of the band Dead & Company with Weir, which performs music made famous by Weir's former group, and he is also named as a performer for August 8.

Mayer will take top billing for the August 21 concert, and his name is listed on August 14, the night headlined by Chappelle. The two have shared the stage together many times over the years, from Mayer appearing on a Chappelle's Show sketch in 2004 to the duo touring together.

Newsweek reached out to Pine Creek Lodge, site of the Rise for the River shows, for comment.