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Top 5 Dave Chappelle controversies: 'The Closer' in thick of 'anti-trans' controversy

As Chappelle continues to receive backlash for his comments on 'The Closer', here's a look at the other times he's courted controversy, but survived
UPDATED JUL 25, 2022
Comedian Dave Chappell in his 2017 Netflix special 'The Age of Spin' (IMDb)
Comedian Dave Chappell in his 2017 Netflix special 'The Age of Spin' (IMDb)

Comedian Dave Chappell had some strong words for his critics at the screening of his biopic 'Untitled'. Just days after racking up controversy for supporting JK Rowling, he told attendees at this screening, "if this is what being canceled is like, I love it." Reportedly, that was met with a standing ovation from A-list celebs, which included the likes of Brad Pitt, Tiffany Haddish, Jon Hamm and Snoop Dogg.

Of course, being in the comedy business, controversy is part of the game. As we've reported, numerous comics have been slammed over the years, as America's politics gets increasingly divided. In April 2021, Dean Obeidallah became the talk of the town after comparing Donald Trump to Osama Bin Laden. In May, Sacha Baron Cohen was sued by former Senate candidate Roy Moore. Back in 2020, Jimmy Kimmel became embroiled in a blackface controversy, which led to a hiatus for a few months. 


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WIth six specials for Netflix alone, Chappell is no stranger to controversy. He's managed to inspire furor almost every time he takes the stage. But as he's made it clear, he has no time or interest in responding to critics. "F--k Twitter. F--k NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid ass networks. I'm not talking to them. I'm talking to you. This is real life," he told attendees. On that note, here's a look at five of Chappell's most controversial moments. 

Supporting JK Rowling in 'The Closer'

During his latest special, Chappell backed the controversial 'Harry Potter' author in her spat with the transgender community. "I'm Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man... Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact," he said on the show, He also compared transgender women to White women in blackface and added women are entitled to feel angry at transgender women.

British author JK Rowling. (@jk_rowling/Twitter)

Mocking Michael Jackson's accusers

Back in his 2019 special 'Sticks and Stones', Chappell controversially mocked the victims of Michael Jackson and said he didn't believe them. "Even if he did do it ... you know what I mean?" he declares. That controversy, actually goes back much further, to around 2004. During a show back then, he said the kids probably enjoyed the experience and should have felt empowered by it because of Jackson’s stature. "I know more than half the people in this room have been molested in their lives, but it wasn’t no goddamn Michael Jackson, was it? This kid got his dick sucked by the king of pop. All we get is awkward Thanksgivings for the rest of our lives," he said in that set.

Defending Donald Trump in New York City

During a show at The Cutting Room in NYC in 2016, Chappell rehashed his Michael Jackson bit to defend Donald Trump, who had just won the 2016 Presidential Election. Chappell addressed the allegations of sexual assault against Trump, and said, "Sexual assault? It wasn’t. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. That phrase implies consent. I just don’t like the way the media twisted that whole thing. Nobody questioned it."  The entire set was blasted by critics, but the focus on Trump drew special attention given he had just won the election.

Slamming the #MeToo movement

In multiple shows, Chappell has had particularly strong words for the #MeToo movement. "I’m sorry, ladies, I’ve got a fucking #MeToo headache," he said on 'Sticks and Stones'. "This is the worst time ever to be a celebrity. Everyone’s doomed," he added and publicly supported fellow comedian and friend Louis CK. In his 2017 special 'The Age of Spin', he also references Bill Cosby, and says, "Let’s just remember that he has a valuable legacy that I can’t just throw away." He then went on to controversially add, "The point is this: He rapes, but he saves. And he saves more than he rapes. But he probably does rape."

Defense of 'reckless' speech in 'The Bird Revelation.'

In his 2017 Netflix special, Chappell bluntly refused to apologize for his past comments, or clearly ones he was going to make in the future. "You have a responsibility to speak recklessly, otherwise my kids might not know what reckless talk sounds like. The joys of being wrong. I didn’t come here to be right, I just came here to f--k around," he tells other comics. "as a policy, you gotta understand, I never feel bad about anything I say up here."  It's a pretty blunt admission he's not going to change, which left some furious that he refused to see the errors in his ways, and several words of condemnation from prominent newspapers.