Minneapolis venue First Avenue has cancelled a standup set by Dave Chappelle slated for July 20th, following backlash surrounding the comedian’s penchant for transphobic jokes. Chappelle will now perform at the city’s Varsity Theater.

First Avenue announced Chappelle’s set on July 18th, prompting numerous users on Twitter to criticize the booking. In a statement, the venue stated, “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.”

“We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have,” the venue added. “We know there are some who will not agree with this decision; you are welcome to send feedback.” Read First Avenue’s full statement below.


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In his 2021 Netflix special The Closer, Chappelle self-identifies as a trans-exclusionary radical feminist and defends fellow transphobe J.K. Rowling. GLAAD, the National Black Justice Coalition, and members of the LGBTQ community criticized the jokes, while openly gay comedian Jerrod Carmichael said the topic was “an old hill to die on.” Despite this backlash, The Closer was still nominated for an Emmy.


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