Dave Chappelle’s show Wednesday night at the First Avenue theater in Minneapolis was canceled at the last minute following online backlash to the comedian’s stand-up act.
The venue announced on social media, "The Dave Chappelle show tonight at First Avenue has been cancelled and is moving to the Varsity Theater. To staff, artists and our community, we hear you, and we are sorry. We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down. 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 theater added, "The First Avenue team and you have worked hard to make our venues the safest spaces in the country, and we will continue with that mission. "We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have. We know there are some who will not agree with this decision; you are welcome to send feedback."
The theater's website confirmed that the performance was moved to the Varsity Theater.
Three performances by the comedian in Minnesota were originally announced Monday. On Tuesday, tickets to the first show sold out in a matter of minutes.
However, social media users flooded First Avenue’s channels with negative comments against Chappelle and the theater for hosting the performance which lead to the cancellation of the show.
The comedian has been a magnet for controversy over his Netflix comedy special, "The Closer" which discussed gender identity.
Earlier this month, a Chappelle comedy special "What’s in a Name," was released on Netflix featuring a speech he gave at his alma mater Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, after declining the offer from the school to rename a theater after him. During the speech, he discussed how the students reacted to transphobic jokes made in "The Closer" and his right to artistic freedom.
Some of the students at the school organized a protest even after the comedian pledged $100,000 to the arts school.
Chappelle said, "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."
"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."
"And these kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression. And I didn’t get mad at them. They’re kids. They’re freshmen. They’re not ready yet. They don’t know."
Chappelle was uninvited from a charity event for the theater naming after he pledged to remove himself as a donor if those who criticized him donated more to the school than his supporters. Chappelle declined to have in name on the theater and as a result, the building will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
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