The comedian shared in a post on Instagram that he was conducting his last show of 2021 at a venue in Seattle when he got a text from fellow stand-up and friend, Chappelle. Apparently, they were performing next door to each other so Chappelle invited him to come do a drop-in set.
“Why not? I waved good-bye to this hell-year with a genius I started comedy with 34 years ago,” Oswalt wrote. “He works an arena like he’s talking to one person and charming their skin off. Anyway, I ended the year with a real friend and a deep laugh. Can’t ask for much more.”
Oswalt’s fans were conflicted over his kind words toward Chappelle given that he faces backlash over comments he made in his recent comedy special “The Closer.”
The comedian caught the ire of the LGBTQ+ community after the comedy special was released on Netflix in September. In it, Chappelle dedicates about a third of his time to discussing his past dealings with people in the transgender community getting offended by his jokes. He makes remarks such as “gender is a fact” and declares himself “team TERF,” a term standing for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, in a lengthy defense of “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling.
His comments sparked a lot of backlash, including a walkout among Netflix employees and calls for his content to be pulled from the platform.
After the attention that his New Year’s Eve post received, Oswalt shared another post on New Year’s Day addressing the situation. In his new post, he noted that he and Chappelle “100% disagree about transgender rights & representation.” However, he noted that he does not believe his friend’s views on the matter are permanent.
“I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time this New Year’s Eve. We’ve known each other since we’re teens. He’s a fellow comedian, the funniest I’ve ever met,” Oswalt began his latest post. “I wanted to post a pic & an IG story about it — so I did. The friend is Dave Chappelle. Thirty four YEARS we’ve been friends.”
He added: “He’s refocused and refined ideas a lot of us took as settled about race & history & Life On Planet Earth and spun them around with a phrase or punchline. We’ve done bad & good gigs, open mikes & TV tapings.”
After defending his longtime friendship with Chappelle, Oswalt tried to put the controversy he is facing in context and explained why he won’t cancel him from his life.
“We also 100% disagree about transgender rights & representation. I support trans peoples’ rights — ANYONE’S rights — to live safely in the world as their fullest selves. For all the things he’s helped ME evolve on, I’ll always disagree with where he stands NOW on transgender issues,” he wrote. “But I also don’t believe a seeker like him is done evolving, learning. You know someone that long, see the struggles and changes, it’s impossible to cut them off.”
The 52-year-old stand-up performer went on to discuss cancel culture in general, revealing that he’s cut friends out of his life with whom he couldn’t agree. Now, he wonders if that negative reception only made them dig their heels in more and double down on bad decisions.
“I’m an LGBTQ ally. I’m a loyal friend. There’s friction in those traits that I need to reconcile myself, and not let cause feels of betrayal in ANYONE else. And I’m sorry, truly sorry, that I didn’t consider the hurt this would cause,” he concluded. “Or the DEPTH of that hurt. I’ve been messaging a lot on IG today, and the back and forth has really helped guide me in the writing of this.”
Despite the backlash that Chappelle received, particularly from Netflix employees, the streaming platform announced in December that he will take part in a new 11-day stand-up comedy festival titled “Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival,” in Los Angeles featuring over 130 artists.