Dave Chappelle’s “What’s in a Name” comedy stand-up special was quietly released on Netflix Friday amid the comedian’s recent controversies.
The 48-year-old’s 40-minute speech was taken from an address he gave at his alma mater, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, last November.
His lecture at the time was not favored among the students and he was there because a theater was going to be named in honor of the comedian.
The speech included jokes about the transgender community and about his controversial 2021 special “The Closer.”
During his school visit, the funnyman also participated in a Q&A with students that made them angry and led to many slamming him for not listening to critical members of the LGBTQ community.
Chappelle decided not to have the theater named after him last month, and the school opted to call it the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression instead.
“What’s in a Name” discussed the cinema’s renaming, as well as Chappelle’s high school years in a Q&A session. He defended his “The Closer” stand-up special and said his critics did n’t look at the show’s artistic nature.
On the new Netflix show, he recalled: “All the kids were screaming and yelling. I remember, I said to the kids, I go, ‘Well, OK, well what do you guys think I did wrong?’ And a line formed. These kids said everything about gender, and this and that and the other, but they didn’t say anything about art.”
The “You’ve Got Mail” actor added, “And this is my biggest gripe with this whole controversy with ‘The Closer’: That you cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance from his words.”
“It would be like if you were reading a newspaper and they say, ‘Man Shot In The Face By a Six-Foot Rabbit Expected To Survive,’ you’d be like, ‘Oh my god,’ and they never tell you it’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon,” he joked.
He then claimed the Q&A hurt his feelings and noted that the annoyed kids who weren’t happy with his content were hating on his “freedom of artistic expression.”
“When I heard those talking points coming out of these children’s faces, that really, sincerely, hurt me. Because I know those kids didn’t come up with those words. I’ve heard those words before. The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it,” Chappelle continued in “What’s in a Name.”
“And it has nothing to do with what you’re saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my right, my freedom, of artistic expression. That is valuable to me. That is not severed from me. It’s worth protecting for me, and it’s worth protecting for everyone else who endeavors in our noble, noble professions,” he said.
“And these kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression. And I didn’t get mad at them,” Chappelle pointed out. “They’re kids. They’re freshmen. They’re not ready yet. They don’t know.”
The “Con Air” actor has been under fire since the release of “The Closer” last year, in which he declared himself to be a “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.”
He was also attacked onstage by an armed audience member, Isaiah Lee, during a show at the Hollywood Bowl in May.