Dave Chappelle had a contentious encounter with students of his old high school during a surprise visit earlier this week. According to Politco, Chappelle stopped by Washington, D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts on Tuesday, where he handed out free Thanksgiving dinners and gifted tickets to his new documentary. However, during a Q&A with students, the comedian was faced with questions over his recent Netflix special Closer.
In the special, which was released in October, Chappelle made several jokes about transgendered people, defended J.K. Rowlings’ anti-trans comments, and went as far to declare himself “Team TERF” (TERF is the acronym for a trans-exclusionary radical feminist). His comments were met with immense criticism, and members of Netflix’s LGBTQ+ community staged a walkout in protest of the streamer’s decision to stand behind the comedian.
In response to the special and Chappelle’s subsequent reaction, one student reportedly called him a “bigot,” adding, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.” The comedian responded by saying, “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.
Pushing back against another “antagonistic” question, Chappelle proclaimed, “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.”
When another student told Chappelle that his “comedy kills,” he responded by dropping the N-word. “N—— are killed every day,” he stated, before asking, “The media’s not here, right?”
Chappelle also singled out a student who walked out of the event by saying, “Of course she left early.”
As students were forced to lock their phones in special pouches prior to the Q&A, the comments were relayed to Politico secondhand. However, a spokesperson for Chappelle did not dispute the contents of their report. “They are complaining that he talked and said the N-word. If anything, Dave is putting the school on the map,” said Carla Sims, referencing the large amount of money the comedian has raised for the school over the years.
Addressing the student who left the event early, Sims said the person “couldn’t even entertain the idea of a conversation.”
“He said these kids deserve an F for forgiveness,” Sims added… “[But] give them some space to grow. They are going to say things that are immature.”
A spokesperson for Duke Ellington School said, “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.”
“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,” added the spokesperson.
Prior to this week’s visit, Chappelle had been uninvited from a fundraiser held by the Duke Ellington School. In response to the snubbing, Chappelle said, “They’re canceling stuff I didn’t even want to do.”