Comedians defend Dave Chappelle in wake of canceled Minnesota show: 'Nobody should be censored'

Comedians defend Dave Chappelle in wake of canceled Minnesota show: ‘Nobody should be censored’

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The comedy world stood up in defense of comedian Dave Chappelle after his show in Minneapolis was canceled at the last minute due to backlash for past anti-trans remarks made on the controversial Netflix show, “The Closer.” 

Dave Chappelle was originally scheduled to perform on Wednesday at the First Avenue concert venue, but the show was moved to a smaller stage three miles away at Varsity Theater following heated protests.

His appearance had been announced on Monday and tickets to the performance sold out in minutes. 

Comedian Flame Monroe, who is transgender, told Fox News Digital that freedom of speech is paramount when it comes to protecting the “safest place” on Earth — the stage.

“When I grow up, I want to be just like him, because guess what, the show must go on,” Monroe said. “I don’t want to be censored as a comedian. I say some ridiculous things on stage, that’s hilarious, that may make you think, but what it also does is teaches you that I’m a human being.” 

Dave Chappelle was supported by the comedy community after he was canceled by a Minnesota venue earlier this week.
(Brian Stukes)

Monroe insisted the venue had their priorities mixed up when they bowed to pressures to cancel the show.

“It’s not about race, or color or size or gender, it’s about money. You don’t want to make money,” Monroe said, adding that comedians “don’t want to spew anger and hate and bitterness. You want people to laugh.”

Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada told Fox News Digital that the “comic stage is their sanctuary. We have to protect the first amendment. We can’t dilute it. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves.”

Masada added he hopes Chappelle’s incident does not affect future comics. “It’s important for the comedians to go out there, to express themselves,” he said. 

Comedian Natalie Cuomo told Fox News Digital that “nobody should be censored” and people should be able to speak freely, especially once they have already been booked to perform.

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“The venue already knew,” she said. “It’s not like he released something new after they booked them. This was already on Netflix. This was already accessible to the public. And canceling a show last minute like that is pretty unacceptable to me.”

She addressed continued concerns about the difficulties of truly being able to “practice free speech” while either on or off stage.  

“For some people, it would frighten them because it seems like there’s a drawback on our ability to practice free speech and our opinion,” she said. “Just because someone has one opinion that you don’t agree with doesn’t mean that you can’t support them in any way. I think that’s really, really frightening that our country is so polarized that way.” 

She added: “It empowers me more to say what I believe, because it makes me want to go further with how I feel. I don’t think it’s okay to limit what people say. I think there needs to always be a space for whatever your beliefs are. Nobody should be censored. I don’t think Dave Chappelle was ever encouraging violence in any capacity, and for anyone to say that is a gross exaggeration.”  

Protestors stood outside the First Avenue venue alongside Dave Chappelle show ticket holders before the performance was canceled and moved to another venue following backlash on Wednesday night.

Protestors stood outside the First Avenue venue alongside Dave Chappelle show ticket holders before the performance was canceled and moved to another venue following backlash on Wednesday night.
(John Reinan/Star Tribune)

Chappelle has been at the center of controversy over his sixth special with Netflix, “The Closer,” which was released in October and has since caused waves of heated debates.

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“I don’t feel like it’s right that people can tell other people what they can and cannot say,” Dani Zoldan, owner of Stand Up New York, told Fox News Digital. “If people don’t want to support him… if people are offended by some of his transgender jokes, they don’t have to support him. They don’t have to watch the Netflix special. They don’t have to buy tickets to their show.”

“But to, you know, force management — who booked him in the first place — and put pressure on them to cancel is really unfortunate. Comedians make jokes about everyone.”

Zoldan noted Wednesday night’s cancellation set a “dangerous precedent” for censorship, and believes only a small minority of the population is actually insulted by his words.

“I think 99% of people are not offended by jokes,” he said. “I think it’s the 1% that just have a lot of time on their hands and make a lot of noise. People work, people need to make money, people need to support their families. Like who has time to, you know, try to cancel a comic or for jokes?”

With artistic freedom on the line, Zoldan insisted people need to be able to laugh whenever and however they choose to do so.

“People should lighten up and be whoever you want. Be straight, gay, trans, non-binary. I wish everyone the best,” Zoldan said. “Everyone should be who they want to be. At the same time, you can’t tell people what they can and can’t say. If you don’t like what someone says, don’t support them. That said, move on with your life. Worry about yourself.” 

Dave Chappelle's Minneapolis show was canceled at the last minute following community backlash for comments he made in the Netflix show, "The Closer."

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

DAVE CHAPPELLE SHOW CANCELED BY MINNESOTA VENUE HOURS BEFORE GIG FOLLOWING CRITICISM 

Comedian Craig Gass, who found fame on “The Howard Stern Show,” grew up in a “completely deaf” family with his mother, father and sister each having hearing disabilities. He told us a “tremendous amount” of offensive jokes have been thrown his way, but he has chosen not to give them any weight.

“The idea that anybody’s standup has any power over anybody doesn’t hold water, it’s ultimately what bothers people, what was really hurt are people’s feelings,” Gass said. 

“Nobody got physically hurt. Nobody will get physically hurt from a standup comedy routine, unless Will Smith is in the audience, but it’s not something that’s going to actually have any physical impact on your life. It’s sad to me when censorship rears its ugly head.” 

Gass found it “surprising” that First Avenue, which was made famous in the movie ‘Purple Rain’, canceled the gig on the day of the event. 

“They’re not a comedy club, but it’s surprising that they have been a venue that has supported … that has been a platform for artists to come in and express themselves in any way they want to. And, you know, that’s where Prince had sex on the floor and mansplained to Apollonia how she needed to be with him. And 35 years later, there are people whose feelings are hurt that Dave Chappelle wanted to tell jokes on that stage.” 

Gass added: “You can’t censor, especially if you’re enjoying standup comedy, and you’re enjoying everything except for the joke that hit close to home for you. I will always respectfully defend the right of any comedian to say anything they want.”

At Wednesday night’s show, Chappelle wondered if the crowd of people who had gathered to protest his appearance at First Avenue would “still all be out there”, but the local Star Tribune reported crowds left by the time curtains called.

Chappelle, 48, also told audience members he thought the decision to move the show was “devastating,” and asked fans to continue supporting the iconic nightclub which is known for being Prince’s hometown venue.

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“It’s an important place for our culture,” he said, via the Tribune.

Roughly 50 trans-rights protesters lined up outside First Avenue to demonstrate against Chappelle’s show.

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

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

A new Netflix comedy special from Chappelle was released under the radar earlier this month, focusing on a speech he gave at his alma mater after declining their offer to rename a theater after him.

His lecture at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., in November was the primary focus of the show, “What’s in a Name,” where he recalled how the students reacted to the offensive jokes made in “The Closer” and how he had to defend his voice not only for his sake, but also for future generations to be able to express their own views.

“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.”

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