TORONTO — Dave Chappelle has booked Scotiabank Arena in Toronto to screen his latest documentary next month, even as he continues to draw controversy over comments in his latest Netflix special deemed anti-transgender.
The U.S. standup comedian, who issued a statement this week saying he's been a victim of "cancel" culture over his comedy bits, will show his film "Untitled" at the 19,800-person arena on Nov. 15.
The Canadian premiere is part of a wider tour of the documentary that includes a live performance by "Dave Chappelle & Friends."
Chappelle's only date in Canada was met with some criticism online after Scotiabank Arena posted the announcement on social media and turned off the comments.
Some interpreted the move as a way to skirt any controversy over hosting the comedian on their premises.
A statement from the venue's owner Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment says it hosts a "wide variety of public events" and that "in some cases certain aspects of the content may be offensive or harmful to some and will not reflect the views or values of our organization."
"MLSE remains steadfast in our commitment to providing a safe environment for all fans and employees who choose to attend an event, supporting those groups who choose not to attend an event due to content that might offend or be harmful, and the ongoing work to create a more inclusive community and positive and enduring social change," the organization added in an email.
Over the past few weeks, Chappelle has faced criticism for his Netflix special "The Closer," where he dedicates much of the routine to recounting run-ins with the LGBTQ community. He ends the special by questioning whether trans women are really women, declaring himself "team TERF" (trans-exclusionary radical feminist).
The special created a rift at Netflix where some employees staged a protest at the company's Los Angeles headquarters last week, drawing attention to their employer's policies around inclusive programming and calling for better trans representation in the company's upper ranks.
A number of stars from Netflix series voiced their support for the protest, including Halifax-born Elliot Page who tweeted: "I stand with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace."
Chappelle posted an Instagram video on Monday from one of his recent live shows where he addressed how the fallout has affected the release of "Untitled":
"This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States and some of those invitations I accepted and when this controversy came out about 'The Closer,' they began disinviting me from these film festivals," he said.
"Today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival will touch this film. Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix. He's the only one that didn't cancel me yet."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2021.
David Friend, The Canadian Press