Dave Chappelle show abruptly cancelled by venue after online backlash

Dave Chappelle set for Canadian Screen Awards.
Dave Chappelle attends the Canadian Screen Awards. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File

A performance by Dave Chappelle was cancelled at the last minute after the venue faced criticism online for booking the comedian.

The First Avenue in Minnesota announced the cancellation on Wednesday, just hours before Chappelle’s show was set to begin. The venue cancelled Chappelle’s show because of ongoing controversy surrounding the comedian’s jokes about transgender people.

Chappelle’s show was moved to another theatre nearby, the Varsity Theatre.

“To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry,” the First Avenue said in a statement shared to Twitter.

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The First Avenue statement claimed that the venue must hold itself “to the highest standards.”

“We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a room, but meaningful beyond our walls,” the statement reads.

“We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have,” the First Avenue wrote of Chappelle’s stand-up performance.

Chappelle has been at the centre of controversy over the past year following comments he made about transgender people in his Netflix comedy special The Closer. 

“Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. This is a fact,” Chappelle said in the Netflix special.

He also called transgender people “confusing” in another Netflix stand-up show, Sticks and Stones.

The Varsity Theatre, which is a 40-minute walk away from First Avenue, hosted Chappelle instead, honouring all tickets from the sold-out show.

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Chappelle has not commented publicly about the First Avenue’s cancellation of his show.

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