Netflix dropped a surprise new release from Dave Chappelle Thursday night.
The special, titled “What’s in a Name?”, focuses on Chappelle’s recent speech at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.
He’s one of the school’s most famous alums but recently turned down the honour of having a theatre named after him following the backlash over his transphobic jokes in the 2021 Netflix special “The Closer”.
In Chappelle’s latest special, he discusses the Q&A he had with unimpressed Duke Ellington students amid the controversy.
He says, according to Variety, “All the kids were screaming and yelling. I remember, I said to the kids, I go, ‘Well, okay, well what do you guys think I did wrong?’ And a line formed. These kids said everything about gender, and this and that and the other, but they didn’t say anything about art.
“And this is my biggest gripe with this whole controversy with ‘The Closer’: That you cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance from his words. It would be like if you were reading a newspaper and they say, ‘Man Shot in the Face by a Six-Foot Rabbit Expected to Survive’, you’d be like, ‘Oh my God,’ and they never tell you it’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon.”
The comedian continues, “When I heard those talking points coming out of these children’s faces, that really, sincerely, hurt me. 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 endeavours in our noble, noble professions.”
Chappelle concludes, “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.”