Netflix Releases Dave Chappelle Standup Special Addressing Past Controversies

By Jessica Lerner 

Netflix has continued its support of Dave Chappelle by releasing new content from the controversial comedian.

The project, titled What’s in a Name?, was released this week on the streamer without much fanfare. It contains a speech Chappelle gave earlier this year to students at his alma mater, where he defends his past transphobic jokes.

He performed for 40 minutes at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., back in June. Chappelle, who assisted in raising funds for the theater’s construction, was originally meant to be commemorated during the ceremony where the building’s theater would be renamed in his honor.


Chappelle rejected the invitation to have the school’s theater named after him, claiming that students who disagree with his political views could be offended by the name, according to The Washington Post.

Instead, it has been renamed the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.

The naming ceremony had been scheduled for last year, but it was postponed because of backlash over his Netflix special The Closer, where he backed Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has made transphobic remarks in the past, and asserted that gender is a fact.

After the special appeared on the service in October, Netflix staff members criticized it, and LGBTQ+ employees planned a walkout.

However, this year, Netflix has stood with Chappelle, who served as one of the Netflix Is a Joke festival headliners.

In What’s in a Name?, Chappelle responded to the criticism leveled at him. He called the contentious special The Closer a misunderstood “masterpiece,” and he claimed the students’ outrage over his transphobic remarks during a tense Q&A in November 2021 left him “sincerely hurt.” He also referred to the students’ concerns as “immature” and said it wasn’t even his idea to have the theater named after him.

And before the end of the speech, Chappelle referred to the students who had objected to him as “instruments of oppression” and said they had merely been propagandized by their superiors.

“I didn’t get mad at them,” he said. “They’re kids. They’re freshmen. They’re not ready yet. They don’t know.”