Dave Chappelle Show Abruptly Canceled by Minneapolis Venue Amid Backlash

The comedian has been embroiled in controversy surrounding jokes made in a Netflix standup special last year.

A Minneapolis performance venue abruptly canceled a scheduled performance by Dave Chappelle after facing backlash for the initial booking. 

In a statement posted to Instagram on Wednesday, just hours before the planned show, the First Avenue venue announced that it would no longer be hosting the 48-year-old comedian and that the performance would instead be held at the nearby Varsity Theater, where Chappelle was already slated to perform on Thursday and Friday. 

"To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry," First Avenue wrote in a statement via Instagram. "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."

"The First Avenue team and you have worked hard to make our venues the safest spaces in the country, and we will continue with that mission," the statement continued. "We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have."

Chappelle has faced a great deal of criticism over the past year for jokes he made regarding the LGBTQ+ community -- particularly the trans community. The comedian and Netflix, which produced the controversial stand-up special, have both faced public protest and high-profile criticism.

In that special, Chappelle said that "gender is a fact," adding, "Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth." Chappelle also identified himself as "Team TERF," which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, an ideology that excludes trans women as women.

The special sparked outrage, protests and even employee walkouts at the streaming giant. Chappelle would ultimately say he's willing to meet with the trans community, but only under certain conditions.

Last month, he declined to have a high school theater named after him at his alma mater, as he didn't want his name to serve as a distraction to students' creative work.

In May, he was attacked and tackled onstage as he performed at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl arena as part of the Netflix Is A Joke Festival. His attacker was later charged with attempted murder in a separate case and in a jailhouse interview with The New York Post, claimed that he felt "triggered" by the comedian's jokes about the LGBTQ+ community and unhoused people.

"I identify as bisexual … and I wanted him to know what he said was triggering," Isaiah Lee told the publication. "I wanted him to know that next time, he should consider first running his material by people it could affect."

Addressing the backlash with his jokes during a subsequent performance, Chappelle said: "For the record, and I need you to know this. Everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting. ... So I don't know what all this nonsense is about."

In confirming that it would host Chappelle's planned performance on Wednesday night, Minneapolis' Varsity Theater shared on Twitter that it would be a "phone-free experience."