‘Genius’ Dave Chappelle defended by DC mayor amid row over transgender jokes

Comedian has faced backlash over his Netflix special

Sam Moore
Friday 15 October 2021 22:15
Dave Chappelle Standup Comedy trailer: Sticks & Stones

Muriel Bowser, the Democratic mayor of Washington DC, has defended Dave Chappelle as he faces criticism for his jokes about transgender people in his latest Netflix special.

In The Closer, Chappelle labels himself “team TERF” which stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” but Ms Bowser, who considers Chappelle a friend, says she is standing by him.

While calling him a “genius”, Ms Bowser also said that she does not tolerate transphobia: “I think we should all be united, and I think Dave would be too in making sure we’re a city that doesn’t accept transphobia, or transphobic violence and that is our deep concern in Washington, violence against trans people.”

She also discussed the comments Chappelle made in the special: “Dave has been having this conversation with the trans community for a long time. But you would be, and I don’t think you would understand the whole show, I’m not sure you’ve seen it if you didn’t also understand some of his other commentary about race.”

Netflix boss, Ted Sarandos, has also defended Chappelle: “Particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace.”

Netflix and Chappelle have come under fire since the special was released on Monday (11 October) with comedian Hannah Gadsby blasting the streaming service’s defence of him.

There has also been significant backlash online, with some organisations demanding that Netflix remove the special from their service.

It is not the first time Chappelle has courted controversy for his jokes. In the same special, he said DaBaby was cancelled for offending gay people but not for shooting a Black man.

He has also made controversy comments about victims of sexual abuse.

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