A Dave Chappelle stand-up show in Minneapolis, Minnesota was canceled on Wednesday, just hours before the comedian was due to perform.
First Avenue, the iconic venue that served as the setting for Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’, has announced that the show will not take place in their theater and will instead move to the Varsity Theater. In an Instagram post, the venue addressed the social media backlash they received after booking Chappelle, who had his share of controversy this year after his Netflix special “The Closer” was criticized for transphobic jokes.
“To the staff, the artists and our community, we hear you and we are sorry. We know we have to 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 play, but meaningful beyond our walls,” the statement read. “The First Avenue team and you have worked hard to make our sites the safest spaces in the country, and we will continue that mission. We believe in diverse voices and freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring this we lost sight of the impact it would have.
After announcing Chappelle’s show earlier this week, First Avenue social media was filled with comments protesting the comedian, although TMZ reported that tickets quickly sold out. “Disgusting that you allow Dave [Chappelle] to play in your room when your guild lines [sic] specifically state that no homophobic or transphobic language will be tolerated,” one comment read.
Dinkytown’s Varsity Theater is now hosting Wednesday’s show, in addition to two more shows on July 21 and 22.
Chappelle defended his jokes by praising artistic expression, doubling down in a recent speech to his alma mater released by Netflix. During the speech, titled “What’s in a Name?”, Chappelle announced that he had decided not to have a theater named after him at school, opting instead to call it the Theater for artistic freedom and expression. Chappelle explained that he made the decision following a conversation with students at the school, during which they criticized his remarks in “The Closer.”
“When I heard those talking points coming out of those kids’ faces, it really, honestly hurt me. Because I know those kids couldn’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,” Chappelle said. “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. It’s precious to me. It doesn’t separate me. It’s worth protecting for me, and it’s worth protecting for all who strive in our noble and noble professions.
Representatives for Chappelle did not immediately respond to Varietyrequest for comment.
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