Dave Chappelle Statement in Full: The Comedian's Response to Netflix Special Backlash

Dave Chappelle's stand-up special, The Closer, caused huge controversy because of what was said about the trans community. Many people protested at the studio behind the program, Netflix, with an employee walkout over safe working conditions for trans people.

The studio's head, CEO Ted Sarandos, has seemingly backed Chappelle, with a memo obtained by Variety showing a decision to stand by the comedian.

In a recent upload to Instagram, Chappelle said Sarandos was the only one not to cancel him and his upcoming George Floyd documentary, and said he would not be "bending to anyone's demands" when it comes to conversations with the trans community.

The five-minute video, which is filmed in front of an audience, sees Chappelle angrily ask if he is canceled, saying his voice must be heard in the discussion.

Dave Chappelle's Statement in Full

"It was said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees at Netflix and I refused. That is not true. If they had invited me, I would have accepted it though I would have been confused about what we were speaking about. I said what I said and boy, I heard what you said, my God. How could I not?

"They said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I'm the only one that can't go to the office anymore. I want everyone in this audience to know. Even though the media frames this that it's me versus that community, that's not what it is. I don't blame the LGBTQ community for any of this s****. This has nothing to do with them, it's about corporate interest, 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.

"In summer 2020, when the whole world shut down, I was outside doing shows. My neighbor had a cornfield and he let me throw shows there. 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.

"I made a whole documentary about it. The first night of those shows a piece that some of you might have seen, it's called 8:46 and dealt with the death, the murder of George Floyd. The film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States and some of those invitations I accepted.

"This controversy came out about The Closer and 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 his film. Thank God for Ted Sarandos at Netflix, he is the only one that didn't cancel me yet.

"To the transgender community, I'm more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody's demands. 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 Gadsby is not funny.

"I desperately want people to see this movie. But I understand why investors would be nervous and 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?' Thank you very much."

What Happened With Dave Chappelle?

Chappelle spoke out against the trans community in his stand-up special The Closer, where he misgendered a woman as a man, made fun of a trans woman's genitalia and declared himself to be a "TERF," which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

This sparked outrage from the trans and LGBT+ communities, and their supporters.

One employee from Netflix, Terra Field, posted a long thread of tweets about her feelings over this, while trans showrunner of Dear White People Jaclyn Moore openly broke ties with the studio.

Employees staged a walkout after a memo from CEO Sarandos suggested he was backing Chappelle, which the comedian has confirmed in his statement.

Sarandos has since been interviewed by Variety, saying he should have handled the internal communications "with more humanity."

The staff walkout was backed by a number of celebrities, including those who work with Netflix, like Jonathan Van Ness and Billy Eichner.

Newsweek has contacted Netflix for comment.

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle Getty