Dave Chappelle was met with boos and cheers during a surprise visit to his high school this week, Politico reports. According to the outlet, which broke the news on Thursday (Nov. 25), the award-winning comedian stopped by his alma mater, Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.; for a Q&A session with students on Tuesday (Nov. 23).
Chappelle’s spokesperson Carla Sims told Politico he visited the school thinking students would offer their forgiveness after a fundraising event featuring him was postponed earlier this month. However, the outlet writes, many of the teenagers instead criticized Chappelle for jokes he made during his controversial Netflix special The Closer about the LGBTQ+ community.
According to Politico, one student called Chappelle a “bigot.” “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish; you handled it like a child,” they said. Another student reportedly yelled, “Your comedy kills.” The outlet writes that Chappelle laughed off several of the critical comments, including making fun of one student for leaving the Q&A early.
Chappelle also reportedly told the teenage crowd, “I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist — no matter what art you do in this school right now, I’m better than all of you. I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.”
Some students and at least one parent also reportedly took issue with Chappelle’s use of the N-word throughout the Q&A session.
“As a parent, I have to say I have a real problem… He was being dead serious and using the N-word on the record. What kind of judgment is the school showing to allow that?” an unidentified parent told Politico.
“They are complaining that he talked and said the N-word. If anything, Dave is putting the school on the map,” Chappelle’s spokesperson said in response.
All in all, Politico writes that around 580 students attended the Q&A and about eight teens came forward to ask questions. While the session’s negative comments got the most attention, a spokesperson for the school said Chappelle specifically called on his critics to address him, leaving his supporters as the “silent majority.”
“During the conversation with students and staff, Chappelle specifically invited the voices of discontent to ask questions. However, as a result, the supporters of Chappelle became the silent majority,” Duke Ellington spokesperson Savannah Overton said. “Our principal was approached by several students after the assembly who were disappointed that they were not able to voice their support for Chappelle in this forum.”
Some students at the school have reportedly received death threats for speaking out against Chappelle, causing administrators to increase security. Chappelle addressed this during the Q&A and said, “This is my family and whether they know it or not I love these kids… I don’t want to hear about any threats to these kids. These kids don’t deserve that.’”