Following the backlash of his Netflix special ‘The Closer,’ Dave Chappelle invited students at his alma mater to speak directly with him about their issues and concerns.
According to Politico, Chappelle made a surprise visit to D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts on Tuesday (Nov. 23). The auditorium was filled with 580 students for an hour-long Q&A session. It was reported that Chappelle’s stage entry was met with a mixture of boos and cheers.
A spokesperson for the high school said Chappelle specifically invited “the voices of discontent,” leaving his supporters as the “silent majority.” Of the 580 students, about eight stepped to the mic to air out their grievances.
One student called the comedian a “bigot” and added, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.” Two students, who remain anonymous, said Chappelle’s response was, “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.”
Chappelle replied to another question by saying, “I’m better than any 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!” one student yelled, and Chappelle replied, “ n***as get killed every day.”
Students who spoke with Politico expressed that they felt intimidated and at odds with Chappelle’s voice of power. Two students said they were afraid to speak, in fear that Chappelle would respond by laughing or making a joke, which he reportedly did often.
Toward the end of the event, Chappelle’s tone changed and he noted that he didn’t want to hear of any death threats against those who protested against him. “This is my family and I love these kids,” one student recalled.
Before leaving, Chappelle gave out tickets to his documentary screening, 600 Thanksgiving meals for students and staff.
According to the New York Post, Chappelle is calling for donations to the school. “I urge you to donate to the school noting your objection. If you are in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle’, I urge you to donate to the school, noting your approval,” he said on Instagram, noting the school’s auditorium being named after himself.