Netflix has released a new Dave Chappelle special despite past controversies surrounding his comedic content. What’s in a Name: Speech at Duke Ellington School of the Arts finds Chappelle at his alma mater, directly addressing the backlash from his previously released special The Closer which resulted in protests and employee walk-offs.
According to Variety, the 40-minute-speech features the comedian announcing the new name for the school’s theater initially set to take his own name. As his keynote neared the end, Chappelle spoke to his previous banter with students at the school who objected to the theater being named in his honor and defended his jokes which were criticized as transphobic.
“All the kids were screaming and yelling. I remember, I said to the kids, I go, ‘Well, okay, 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,” Chappelle said.
“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 continued to describe, “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.”
Last month when the speech was initially delivered, he revealed the new name as the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.