First Avenue gets heat for booking controversial comic Chappelle

First Avenue surprised comedy fans on Monday when the legendary downtown Minneapolis venue announced a controversial comic Dave Chappelle was booked to perform a few days later on Wednesday.

Tickets for the show are $129.50 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday through Axs.

Shortly after the announcement, First Avenue social media followers responded with nearly universal criticism for booking the comedian, who in recent years has cracked a string of jokes the LGBTQ community calls transphobic.

The nightclub closed comments on Facebook, but not on Twitter, where dozens of people used profanity in their replies to express their anger. Local musician Katy Vernon posted the “No” response with a GIF of Jenna Fischer character Pam from “The Office” rolling her eyes.

Several other Twitter users pointed out the code of conduct on the First Avenue websitewhich describes behavior that is not welcome on the site, including: “Acting or speaking in a discriminatory manner or using language that is racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, xenophobic or other biases, including the abuse of intentional sex.”

First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz declined to comment when asked about the reviews.

In his 2019 Netflix special “Sticks and Stones,” Chappelle drew fire for telling his audience “you’re never, ever allowed to upset alphabet people” and revealing that Comedy Central won’t tell him. wouldn’t allow a gay slur to be used on “Chappelle’s Show,” his groundbreaking sketch show that ran for three seasons from 2003 to 2006.

Chappelle doubled his views in “The Closer,” which debuted on Netflix in October. In the special, he declared himself a Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminist (TERF) alongside ‘Harry Potter’ author JK Rowling. “They canceled JK Rowling — my God,” Chappelle said in the special. “She actually said gender was a fact, the trans community went crazy as s—, they started calling it a TERF…I’m the TERF team.”

Some Netflix employees staged a strike from the company’s Los Angeles headquarters to protest “The Closer,” but Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos refused to make changes or remove the streamer’s special. In an October interview with VarietySarandos said, “I want people to understand… that going forward, it should be very clear that I support artistic freedom and the creators who work at Netflix.”

Chappelle’s specials are some of Netflix’s most-watched content, and the streamer reportedly spent $24.1 million on “The Closer,” which Chappelle says will be his last special for the foreseeable future.

The comic has a history with First Avenue. Chappelle performed eight shows there in November 2013, when he emerged from an eight-year period spent largely out of public view. He returned for a run of six shows in the summer of 2016.

In November, Chappelle performed across the street at Target Center. It was part of a 10-city arena tour that included the screening of a documentary about Chappelle’s efforts to stage outdoor comedy and music shows in rural Ohio during the first summer of the pandemic. The evening also included several other comics and an unannounced impromptu concert featuring Justin Bieber, Usher, and possibly Chappelle himself.

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