Dave Chappelle's filmed Q&A session at his old school was met with mixed reception from students and parents alike.
Dave Chappelle not only argues that cancel culture is ineffective; he also welcomes detractors to try and prove him wrong. For the past several weeks he has been laughing about his "cancelation" following his final Netflix special The Closer and responding to criticism at his Untitled documentary screenings across the country. Now, Dave Chappelle has now turned his attention to the youth.
As previously reported, the celebrated comedian's fundraiser at his old high school, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, was called off after students voiced discontent with his jokes and comments in The Closer, and at first, Dave Chappelle joked that he didn't want to do the fundraiser anyways. It turns out that Dave Chappelle didn't completely move on from the situation because he popped up at the Duke Ellington School earlier this week to hand out 600 Thanksgiving meals, give out free tickets to his Untitled documentary screening, and participate in an open Q&A session with staff and 580 students.
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According to Variety, Dave Chappelle opted to bring a camera crew to capture the Q&A on film, and when the comedian arrived, he was met with "a raucous reception of cheers and some boos." During the hour-long Q&A, Chappelle reportedly insisted that his staunchest critics let their voices be heard, a decision which Duke Ellington School's spokesperson says made Chappelle's supporters become "the silent majority."
Eight students are said to have confronted Dave Chappelle during the Q&A, including a 16-year-old student who called him both a "bigot" and "childish" and claimed that he "handled it like a child." Since attendees were asked to secure their phones in magnetic pouches to prevent leaked recordings, two students verbally relayed Chappelle's response over to Politico. According to them, he responded to the 16-year-old 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."
Another student reportedly challenged Chappelle's rhetoric about the trans and LGBTQ communities, telling him directly, "Your comedy kills." To that, Dave Chappelle emphatically responded, "N***** are killed every day."
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As the students' questions for the comedian grew "antagonistic," Variety reports that Chappelle responded to their comments with jokes and laughter before eventually dropping a bombshell on the young crowd, saying, "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."
One student left the Q&A early because they "couldn’t even entertain the idea of a conversation," yet even with all of the contention during the Q&A, Dave Chappelle made a conscious effort to make sure that no harm comes the students' way. Talking directly to the camera, 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."
Days after the Q&A, many students and parents find the whole event to be both inappropriate and disappointing, citing issues with his use of the N-word when talking with teenagers as well as his overall tone when responding to students' criticism.
Stay tuned for more updates in the ongoing Dave Chappelle and Duke Ellington School of the Arts story.