Dave Chappelle is not retracting the jokes he made in his controversial Netflix stand-up special, “The Closer,” even after employees of the streaming platform staged a walkout on Wednesday in protest of the content.
According to a report from Variety, the comic played to a sold-out crowd in London on Wednesday night and told the audience he plans to take “The Closer” on the road if it gets pulled from Netflix. Attendees claimed Chappelle said he would screen the special in 10 cities across the U.S.
One person told the outlet that Chappelle did mention that the protest taking place in Los Angeles, Calif. “wasn’t favorable” for him. Another said the entertainer seemed “baffled” by the transphobia and homophobia accusations made against him.
In new photos, Chappelle is seen in London after his show surrounded by heavy security as he walks into a members-only nightclub and reportedly partied until 4 a.m.
He tried to go incognito with a dark green jacket and black scarf flanked by two guards.
On Wednesday, protesters held signs outside of a Netflix office building with the phrases “Trans lives matter” and “Transphobia is not a joke” among others.
Comedian Dave Chappelle is spotted making a low key visit to Annabel’s night club in London.
The scheduled walkout was planned by Netflix employees seeking to highlight their objections to the comedy special and the company’s handling of it.
Ashlee Marie Preston, an activist and the event’s organizer, addressed the rally and spoke to The Associated Press afterward. She said that calling out Chappelle for his remarks wasn’t enough.
“It was important to shift the focus to the people that sign the checks, because Dave Chappelle doesn’t sign checks, Netflix does,” Preston said. “If we have companies like Netflix who aren’t listening to their employees, who are forcing their employees to participate in their own oppression, that’s unacceptable.”
It is his first sighting since the Netflix protest up this week, Chappelle (center) had a strong security presence in London after a sold-out show.
“We’re here to keep people accountable. We’re not going anywhere,” she said, adding that efforts are underway to start a dialogue with Netflix executives.
Earlier on Wednesday, Team Trans(asterisk), which identifies itself as supporting “trans people working at Netflix trying to build a better world for our community,” posted what it called a list of “asks” being made of Netflix by trans and nonbinary workers and allies at the company. It also called for disclaimers to flag content that includes “transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia” and hate speech.
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.”
Trans employees and allies at Netflix walkout in protest of Dave Chappelle special on October 20, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Netflix has decided to air Chappelle’s special, which contains jokes about transgender people, even though some employees have voiced concerns they feel have been ignored by the company. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
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.”
In interviews Tuesday, Sarandos said he failed to recognize that “a group of our employees was really hurting,” as he told The Wall Street Journal, and that his comment about the effect of TV on viewers was an oversimplification.
People protest outside the Netflix building in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Critics and supporters of Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special and its anti-transgender comments gathered outside the company’s offices. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
A spokesperson for Netflix told Fox Business before the 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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.