Minneapolis’ First Avenue on Wednesday canceled a Dave Chappelle show at the last minute after facing public backlash for booking the comedian.
Just hours before the comedian was to take to the stage at the storied venue, which was featured in Prince’s Purple Rain, First Avenue announced that the show would now take place at the Varsity Theater. The venue released a statement about the last-minute change, noting that it was because of a backlash against Chappelle’s transphobic comments in his controversial Netflix special, The Closer.
“To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry,” First Avenue said in a statement. “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 that mission.”
We hear you. Tonight’s show has been cancelled at First Avenue and is moving to the Varsity Theater. See our full statement for more. pic.twitter.com/tkf7rz0cc7
— First Avenue (@FirstAvenue) July 20, 2022
First Avenue noted that while there are some who won’t agree with the decision, they are “welcome to send feedback.” Chappelle has performed at First Avenue during his previous comedy tours. Ticket holders were informed that they would get an email informing them of the change in venue, alongside ticket information. Varsity Theater confirmed the change in a tweet just ahead of the show.
Attention Dave Chappelle Fans! The show scheduled for tonight at First Ave has now been moved to Varsity Theater. Your tickets from First Ave will be honored. Doors open at 8PM and we highly recommend arriving early.
This event will be a phone-free experience. pic.twitter.com/khrphPmqZo
— Varsity Theater (@VarsityTheater) July 20, 2022
Despite the backlash Chappelle has faced for his comments in The Closer, the comedian has continued to dig his heels in, and dismissed most of the criticism directed his way. Netflix has also stood by him, and recently released his alma mater speech in which he once again addressed the situation and specifically the pushback he received from young students at his alma mater, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
“These kids said everything about gender and this and that and the other, but they didn’t say anything about art,” Chappelle said at the time. “And this is my biggest gripe with this whole controversy with The Closer. You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance from his words. It would be like if you were reading the newspaper and they say ‘man shot in the face by a six-foot rabbit, expected to survive.’ You’d be like, ‘oh my god.’ And they never tell you it’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon.”