During the sold-out, A-lister affair, Chappelle discussed the controversy surrounding his special, The Closer, which has been reamed for his commentary on the LGBTQ+ community and trans women. “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it,” Chappelle said, per Deadline. “I don’t know what to tell you, except I’m a bad motherfucker.”
“Thank God I’m canceled because fuck this shit anyway. I bet you I’ll be someone better than you think,” he added.
While chiding cancel culture, he also encouraged messages of kindness and love. “This is the kindness conspiracy,” he said, adding that “we have to trust one another.” But at other moments, he was more matter-of-fact: “Fuck Twitter. Fuck NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid ass networks. I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you. This is real life.”
Snoop Dogg, Nas, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Stevie Wonder, Talib Kweli, Lizzo, and Jon Hamm took the stage in front of the 18,000-person audience, which included Brad Pitt, Tiffany Haddish, Donnell Rawlings, among others—and gave Chappelle a standing ovation. Wonder also backed Chappelle, telling the crowd, “We need to cancel hate!”
GLAAD and other civil rights slammed Chappelle and Netflix following the arrival of The Closer, with the National Black Justice Coalition even pushing that the streaming platform to remove the special altogether. “With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States—the majority of whom are Black transgender people—Netflix should know better. Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community,” NBJC executive director David Johns said in a statement earlier this week.