Dave Chappelle show canceled by Minnesota venue hours before gig following criticism

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Dave Chappelle was set to perform a stand-up comedy routine Wednesday night at First Avenue in Minneapolis, but the show was canceled at the last minute following backlash. Chappelle has been at the center of controversy over his Netflix program, “The r.” 

“The Dave Chappelle show tonight at First Avenue has been cancelled and is moving to the Varsity Theater,” the announcement said. 

“To staff, artists and our community, we hear you, and we are sorry. We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down. We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a room, but meaningful beyond our walls.”

The trio of performances in Minnesota was first announced on Monday, and tickets to the first show sold out in a matter of minutes Tuesday. But some fans of the popular downtown venue voiced their opinions against the comedian, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the show.


Dave Chappelle show canceled by Minnesota venue hours before gig following criticism

Dave Chappelle’s Minneapolis show was canceled at the last minute following community backlash for comments he made in the Netflix show, "The r."
(Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)

“The First Avenue team and you have worked hard to make our venues the safest spaces in the country, and we will continue with that mission,” the statement continued.

“We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have. We know there are some who will not agree with this decision; you are welcome to send feedback.”

In “The r,” Chappelle discussed controversies surrounding gender identity and has continued to defend his right to artistic freedom despite heavy backlash. 

First Avenue’s Twitter feed was bombarded with comments denouncing the decision to allow the comedian to perform after announcing Chappelle’s new shows.

Some cited the club’s code of conduct as enough reason not to book Chappelle. 

“The following behavior is not welcome at First Avenue venues: Acting or speaking in a discriminatory manner or using racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, xenophobic, or other biased language including intentional misgendering,” the policy states. 

“Read these comments,” Twitter user @eleguante wrote. “You’re platforming someone who is deliberately choosing to target trans people at a specific historical moment in which those actual people’s actual lives are in actual danger (even more than usual). That context matters. Or at least it should.”

“Seriously? There’s a reason you’re announcing it this late,” @katie_padilla wrote. “I respect a lot of what you do in the community and I spend a good chunk of change on shows at your venues. But this is not a good look. AT ALL.”

“As a first ave member, I find this gross,” another user voiced online. “As a booking it does not seem to align with the values that First Ave proposes they promote and support. I am sure there are plenty of other venues that could give this performer a stage.”


A rep for Chappelle did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

A new Netflix comedy special from Chappelle was released under the radar earlier this month through the streaming giant and focused on a speech he gave at his alma mater after declining the offer from the school to rename a theater after him following his transphobic joke controversy.

His lecture at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., in November was the primary focus of the latest show, “What’s in a Name,” in which he recalled how the students reacted to transphobic jokes made in “The r” and how he had to defend his right to artistic freedom.

Chappelle graduated from the school in 1991 and returned in November for a surprise visit, during which students thought he would be apologizing for insensitive remarks made in the special.

Dave Chappelle show canceled by Minnesota venue hours before gig following criticism

Dave Chappelle, pictured here in 2019, continues to face backlash for comments he made in "The r" and most recently defended his remarks in a new Netflix special.
(Owen Sweeney)


“When I heard those talking points coming out of these children’s faces, that really, sincerely, hurt me,” Chappelle said. “Because I know those kids didn’t come up with those words. I’ve heard those words before. The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it.

“And it has nothing to do with what you’re saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my right, my freedom, of artistic expression. That is valuable to me. That is not severed from me. It’s worth protecting for me, and it’s worth protecting for everyone else who endeavors in our noble, noble professions.

“And these kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression. And I didn’t get mad at them. They’re kids. They’re freshmen. They’re not ready yet. They don’t know.”

Some students at the school staged a protest just weeks after Chappelle pledged $100,000 to the arts school.


Chappelle was also uninvited from a charity event for the theater naming after he vowed to remove himself as a prospect altogether if those who criticized him put their money where their mouths were and donated more to the school than his supporters.

“I’m 16, and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child,” a student said, adding that Chappelle is a “bigot,” according to a Politico Playbook report. 

Despite his attempt to connect with the students and the general public, Chappelle last month declined the offer for the last time. The building will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.

Chappelle, who was among the main donors to the school’s theater, said he would be open to putting his name on the building in the future.


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