Dave Chappelle Called a 'Bigot' During Surprise Stop at Former High School

The polarizing comedian stopped by Duke Ellington School for the Arts earlier this week, and was further criticized over his remarks about the trans community.

Dave Chappelle speaks onstage during the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

Image via Getty/Dimitrios Kambouris

Dave Chappelle speaks onstage during the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

Dave Chappelle made a surprise appearance at his high school alma mater in Washington, D.C., earlier this week. And let’s just say he didn’t receive the warmest welcome.

According to Politico, the polarizing comedian performed for students and teachers of the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, where he received his diploma more than 30 years ago. Following his performance, Chappelle conducted a Q&A session with the 600-person crowd, and was immediately slammed for his controversial jokes about the trans community. 

One 16-year-old student reportedly took the mic and called Chappelle a “bigot” who had handled criticism “like a child.” The teen was seemingly referring to the backlash Chappelle faced over The Closer, his latest Netflix special that included remarks that were widely considered transphobic.

The comedian responded to the student’s comments, which were confirmed by his spokesperson, with an unapologetic tone.

“My friend, with all due respect, I don’t believe you could make one of the decisions I have to make on a given day,” he said.

Following the premiere of The Closer, a number of activists and LGBTQ advocacy groups called on Netflix to pull the special from its service. Some of his most controversial moments in the show included Chappelle declaring himself “team TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist)” and stating “gender is a fact.”

Dave Chappelle is “Team TERF”pic.twitter.com/XdeKZt1YnU

— Jerry Dunleavy 🇺🇸 (@JerryDunleavy) October 9, 2021

Another student reportedly told Chappelle his “comedy kills.” He allegedly fired back with, “N***as are killed every day,” before asking, “The media’s not here, right?”

According to Politico, one student had walked out during the event, prompting Chappelle to call her out while at the mic: “Of course she left early,” he reportedly said.

A spokesperson for the school told the outlet some of the students were supportive of Chappelle, but felt as though they weren’t given the opportunity to express their views.

“During the conversation with students and staff, Chappelle specifically invited the voices of discontent to ask questions, however as a result, the supporters of Chappelle became the silent majority,” Savannah Overton said. “Our principal was approached by several students after the assembly who were disappointed that they were not able to voice their support for Chappelle in this forum.”

The school announced Chappelle’s visit several weeks ago, but postponed the event to next April after students threatened a walkout. During his appearance, Chappelle reportedly expressed his support for the students who had planned to protest, and spoke out against the threats they received in the following days.

“His whole tone changed,” one student recalled. “He said, ‘This is my family and whether they know it or not I love these kids. … I don’t want to hear about any threats to these kids. These kids don’t deserve that.’ He was really kind. If [only] he [had] acted that way the whole time. … There was no reason to be mean to us. He was just laughing at kids.”

Chappelle’s rep told Politico, “[Dave] said these kids deserve an F for forgiveness. Give them some space to grow. They are going to say things that are immature.”

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