Dave Chappelle to Perform at ‘Netflix Is a Joke’ Festival Amid Backlash To Last Stand-Up Special

“Netflix Is A Joke” will be an 11-day L.A. festival where over 130 top comedians will perform.

(Getty Images)

Dave Chappelle has landed a new Netflix gig, even after his last stand-up special, The Closer, stirred up a fierce backlash after some critics labeled it transphobic.

The 48-year-old funnyman will join more than 130 other comedians slated to perform at “Netflix Is A Joke,” an 11-day festival to be held in 2022 across 25 iconic Hollywood venues like the Greek Theater, Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium and Crypto.com.

Other notable acts include Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Kevin Hart, John Mulaney, Amy Schumer, Ali Wong, Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Chelsea Handler, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Pete Davidson, Ray Romano, and Seth Rogen, according to the New York Post.

“It’s absolutely thrilling for Netflix to be hosting a comedy festival of this magnitude in Los Angeles,” Netflix’s director of stand-up and comedy formats, Robbie Praw, said in a statement.

The event was originally scheduled for 2021, but the coronavirus pandemic forced a cancelation.

“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 faces in one of the greatest cities in the world.”

Chappelle’s The Closer debuted on Netflix in October to praise from fans and ire from critics—it holds a 40 percent “rotten” score based on 10 reviews and a 95 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Among the most controversial material included button-pushing jokes that were deemed transphobic. Chappelle also said he was joining Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on team TERF, the acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

Amid the backlash, two transgender Netflix employees filed labor complaints against the streaming service. The Post reports that one of those workers has since resigned and the other dropped the complaint.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended the special in a memo to employees.

“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him.” The Closer marked the sixth and final special of a multimillion-dollar deal between Netflix and Chappelle.

“As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful,” he said.

“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles [on] Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.”

The executive added, “Particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace.”


Chappelle expressed gratitude towards Sarandos while announcing Untitled, a documentary about his 2020 comedy tour that he claimed was rejected from film festivals as a result of the controversy.

“This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States and some of those invitations I accepted. When this controversy came out about The Closer, they began disinviting me from these film festivals.”

“And now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film. Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”

Tickets for the Netflix Is a Joke festival go on sale December 10. Click here to learn more.