Why Dave Chappelle rejected naming high school theater after him

The comedian offered an alternative name for the theater
Why Dave Chappelle rejected naming high school theater after him
Dave Chappelle (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Preeminent comedian Dave Chappelle shocked folks when he rejected his alma mater’s desire to place his name on its performing arts theater.

Chappelle, 48, said he was crushed by the blizzard of criticism from students when he visited them in November 2021. Many students reportedly protested naming the theater after him and spoke ill of him when he sat down with them to let them air their grievances over his controversial “The Closer” special. Chappelle and Netflix drew widespread condemnation for his inflammatory remarks about the LBGTQ+ community.


The Half Baked and Blue Streak movie star said that he has absorbed some mean-spirited criticism from adults throughout his career. But when the students allegedly came at him seven months ago, Chappelle told the people in attendance at the Duke Ellington School of Performing Arts gala on June 202, 2022, that he was genuinely “hurt,” Ace Showbiz reports.

The students “sincerely hurt me,” Chapelle told the crowd at the ceremony that was designed to honor him in Washington, D.C. “I took a lot of cold shots in business … but that day, they hurt me. The Ellington family is my family.”


One student, for example, barked at Chappelle in November 2021, saying, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”

And there were others who delivered scathing rebukes of Chappelle. 

Chappelle, however, still defiantly defends “The Closer” as a “masterpiece.”

“No matter what they say about ‘The Closer,’ it is still [one of the] most-watched specials on Netflix. The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it. It has nothing to do with what you are saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my freedom of artistic expression.”

Consequently, as a result of many students’ sentiments, Chappelle offered as an alternative to calling it the Dave Chappelle theater with the name “Theater of Artistic Freedom and Expression” in honor of his ironclad will to defend his Constitutional right. 

The gesture inspired a rousing standing ovation, the publication reported.

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