Dave Chappelle and Netflix working together again after outrage over comedy special

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Netflix confirmed it’s working with Dave Chappelle again after receiving intense backlash for the comedian’s latest stand-up special “The Closer.” 

The streaming platform announced on Monday a new 11-day stand-up comedy festival titled “Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival,” in Los Angeles featuring over 130 artists, including the Emmy-winning Chappelle.

The event will take place on April 28-May 8, 2022, and feature comedians such Ali Wong, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, Bill Burr, Chelsea Handler, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, Hasan Minhaj, Iliza Shlesinger, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Jerry Seinfeld, John Mulaney, Jonathan Van Ness, Ken Jeong, Kevin Hart, Larry David, Margaret Cho, Maya Rudolph, Nicole Byer, Patton Oswalt, Pete Davidson, Ray Romano, Sandra Bernhard, Seth Rogen, Tig Notaro, Tina Fey, Wanda Sykes and many more. 

The event was delayed from 2020 due to the pandemic. 

Dave Chappelle performing during his special "The Closer" on Netflix. 
(Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)

“It’s absolutely thrilling for Netflix to be hosting a comedy festival of this magnitude in Los Angeles,” Robbie Praw, director, stand-up and comedy formats, Netflix, said in a press release. “We were so disappointed to postpone the event last spring and our lineup of comedians can’t wait to bring much needed laughs to audiences in LA and around the world on Netflix. ‘Netflix Is A Joke Festival’ is going to give comedy fans the opportunity to see the greats and discover new voices in one of the greatest cities in the world.”

Chappelle is set to headline The Hollywood Bowl. He landed in hot water when “The Closer” first aired on Oct. 1. 

People protest outside the Netflix building in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Oct. 20, 2021. 
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Chappelle’s disparaging remarks about the transgender community raised protests within Netflix and from activists. About 30 Netflix workers staged an Oct. 20 walkout and joined a rally at Netflix offices in Los Angeles. 

Netflix ran into a buzz-saw of criticism not only with the special but in how internal memos responded to employees’ concerns, including co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ assertion that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”

At the time, Sarandos also wrote that Netflix doesn’t allow titles that are “designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.”

Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos apologized for failing to recognize that "a group of our employees was really hurting" after the special premiered. 
(Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for BFI)

The exec later apologized for his comments and said he failed to recognize that “a group of our employees was really hurting,” he told The Wall Street Journal, and that his comment about the effect of TV on viewers was an oversimplification.

A spokesperson for Netflix told FOX Business before the employee walkout, “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”

Chappelle later stated in a video, per Variety, that he is open to speaking with transgender employees at Netflix or other members of the trans community but will not bend “to anybody’s demands.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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