Dave Chappelle’s Show In Minneapolis Tonight Cancelled Amidst Transphobic Remarks Backlash; Legendary Venue Immortalized In Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’

Dave Chappelle may have garnered an Emmy nomination last week for his controversial The Closer special, but today the comic was booted out of one of Minneapolis’ most storied venues for his often wounding take on the transgender community.

Mere hours before the Mark Twain Prize winner was set to step on to the stage at the Minnesota metropolis’ First Avenue, organizers pulled the plug on the sold out show. Citing a backlash against Chappelle’s perceived transphobic remarks, First Avenue management cancelled his protested performance at the venue and moved him to the nearby Varsity Theater.

Here is what First Avenue said earlier today:


A post shared by First Avenue (@firstavenue)

The Varsity Theater soon afterwards took to Twitter Wednesday to reinforce the shift of venues:

Reps for Chappelle, who was previously set to put on two other shows at the Varsity tomorrow and on July 22, did not respond to a request for comment from Deadline on the First Avenue cancellation. Tickets for Chappelle’s First Avenue gig were suddenly released on July 18 and were scooped up within minutes for the 1,550 main room capacity facility.

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For those of you living under a rock or requiring a cultural anthropology lesson, First Avenue is the club featured heavily in Prince’s iconic Purple Rain film from 1984. Though First Avenue has never official been declared a historical landmark, as many believe it should be, the venue celebrated its 50th anniversary back in 2020. Over his career, Chappelle has performed at the venue repeatedly.

Even though Chappelle’s The Closer attracted fierce fallout and even some Netflix staff firings and resignations over the protests for his attacks on the transgender community, TV Academy voters still felt fit to give the special an Emmy nomination on July 12 in the Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) category.

In his What’s in a Name? special released on Netflix last month, Chappelle showed little understanding of the pain he may have caused. In fact, he called The Closer a “masterpiece.” Citing a meeting with upset students of Washington D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where Chappelle himself finished high school, the comic dismissed their concerns with his material and his POV on trans rights as simply “talking points” lacking insight into his artistic nuance. “The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it,” said Chappelle in the 40-minute speech over the naming of the school’s theater. “And it has nothing to do with what you’re saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my right, my freedom, of artistic expression.”

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