A Dave Chappelle’s stand-up show in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was canceled just hours before the comedian was due to perform by the venue management.
Initially, First Avenue, the iconic venue, provided the stage for Dave Chappelle’s show, but later they announced that they canceled the show and changed the venue address to Varsity Theatre. The venue addressed the backlash they received on social media after booking the comedian, who has had his share of controversy this year after his Netflix special ‘The Closer’ was criticized for transphobic jokes.
The statement read that to the staff, the artists, and their community, they hear and feel it. They know they must hold themselves to the highest standards, and they know they let them down. They are not just a black box with people inside; they understand that First Ave is not just a room but significant beyond our walls.
The statement continued that the First Avenue team and you have worked hard to make their places the safest spaces in the country, and they will continue that mission. They believe in diversity of voices and freedom of artistic expression, but by honoring that, they lost sight of the consequence this would have.
After announcing Chappelle’s show earlier this week, First Avenue’s social media was abuzz with comments protesting the comedian. However, the media reported that tickets sold out quickly. He read in a comment that disgusting that you allow Dave [Chappelle] to act in his place when his guild lines [sic], where specifically homophobic or transphobic language, will not be tolerated.
Varsity Theater in Dinkytown now hosts the show, plus two more shows on July 21 and 22.
Dave Chappelle has defended his jokes promoting artistic expression, redoubling himself in a recent speech at his alma mater published by Netflix. In the chronicle of a speech titled ‘What’s in a Name?’ Dave Chappelle announced that he decided not having a theater named after him at the school, instead calling it Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression. Chappelle explained that he decided after a conversation with students at the school, in which they criticized his comments on ‘The Closer.’
Chappelle said that when he heard those talking points coming off these kids’ faces, it really hurt him. Because he knows those kids didn’t come up with those words. Dave has heard those words before. The more you say he can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it. Furthermore, it has nothing to do with what we are saying that he can’t say. It has everything to do with his right, his freedom of artistic expression. That is valuable to him. That is not separate from him. It is worth protecting for him, and it is worth protecting for everyone else who strives in their noble, noble professions.
Chappelle’s representatives did not immediately respond to a media’s request for comment.