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After Testy Q&A With Students At Former High School, Dave Chappelle Nixes Plan To Name Theater After Him, Suggests Another Idea

Dave Chappelle Netflix stand-up comedy.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Dave Chappelle has been a name in the news recently for a variety of reasons, not all of them good. The actor and stand-up comedian released a new stand-up special which has resulted in criticism from several corners, which was apparently also the catalyst for Chappelle being attacked while performing. Now, the criticism has resulted in Chappelle not taking his alma mater up on the offer to rename the school’s theater in his honor. 

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. was set to rename its theater after Dave Chappelle, a former student at the school. The decision to rename the school after the comedian was not without controversy, as a number of student confronted Chappelle for jokes he made at the expense of the transgender community in his recent Netflix special The Closer. According to TMZ, during last night’s naming ceremony, Chappelle sighted the criticism, when he said he would not be putting his name on the theater. Instead, he has asked the theater be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.

It’s unclear if the decision for the new name has been agreed upon or if this is just a suggestion from Chappelle after deciding not to put his name on the school. One way or another the school will apparently need to go with a plan B for the theater naming.

Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer was not received well by many who felt that his jokes about the transgender community crossed a line. Netflix stood by the Chappelle special, though the Netflix CEO did eventually conceded that people were hurt by what was said. Chappelle’s Netflix special isn’t even the only one to be criticized in recent months, as a special from Ricky Gervais has also put Netflix on the defensive

Dave Chappelle’s decision here is certainly unexpected. To wait until what was supposed to be the renaming ceremony to make this change implies this may have literally been a last minute decision. While there were certainly students that made it clear they did not want to see the theater named after him, supporters of Chappelle reportedly raised more money for the building, so there were plenty that wanted to see the renaming go forward. The request that the theater now be named after artistic freedom and expression is clearly a comment on the whole situation, as Chappelle feels he has not been given that artistic freedom.

While Dave Chappelle may be on the receiving end of a not inconsiderate amount of bad press, he’s not having any trouble finding work. It was announced earlier this month that Chapelle and Chris Rock would be performing together in London in September. Both men made headlines for physical altercations during live performances.  

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.