Comedian Dave Chappelle made a surprise visit to his alma mater in Washington, D.C., where some students reportedly expected him to apologize following blowback over his popular “The Closer” comedy special on Netflix this year.
“I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child,” a student said, adding that Chappelle is a “bigot,” Politico Playbook reported Thursday after speaking to attendees of the event.
“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 responded, according to students recounting the event.
Chappelle has faced years of backlash and claims that he is “transphobic” for jokes in his stand-up acts, including after “The Closer,” where he made comments such as “gender is a fact,” was released on Netflix last month. The special was panned by the trans community and some employees of Netflix but boasts high ratings among general audiences.
Comedian Dave Chappelle attends a boxing bout Nov. 6, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus, File) (AP Photo/Steve Marcus, File)
He made an appearance at D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts on Tuesday, where 580 students packed the auditorium, according to Politico Playbook. The comedian graduated from the school in 1991.
The school initially moved his appearance from Nov. 23 to April 22 over threats of students walking out in protest before apparently going back to the original plan.
Politico reported that he responded to another antagonistic question from a student: “I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I’m better than all of you. I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.”
“Your comedy kills,” another student shouted at him.
Dave Chappelle in “The Closer” (Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)
“N—— are killed every day,” he reportedly responded, before saying: “The media’s not here, right?”
“As a parent, I have to say I have a real problem. … He was being dead serious and using the N-word on the record. What kind of judgment is the school showing to allow that?” one parent said of the event.
Chappelle spokesperson Carla Sims did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the event. She told Politico, “They are complaining that he talked and said the n-word. If anything, Dave is putting the school on the map.”
“He said these kids deserve an F for forgiveness,” Sims added, saying he did not expect students to want him to apologize during the visit. But “give them some space to grow. They are going to say things that are immature.”
A Duke Ellington official added that the comedian encouraged students who took issue with his comedy to ask him questions, and about eight students came forward.
“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,” said Duke Ellington spokesperson Savannah Overton.
“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,” she added.
Despite apparently tense moments, students said Chappelle had a softened tone by the end of the visit and denounced death threats some students received over protesting him. One student recounted him as being “really kind.”
Dave Chappelle arrives to the premiere of “A Star is Born” during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival held on Sept. 9, 2018, in Toronto, Canada. (Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
“His whole tone changed,” one of the students told Politico. “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,” the student added. “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.”
He also gave each student three tickets to his documentary “Untitled” and 600 meals to students and staff for Thanksgiving.