Dave Chappelle Notches Grammy Win Over Mob Of Humorless Scolds

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Comedian Dave Chappelle won Best Comedy Album at the 2023 Grammys for his new special “The Closer,” despite facing scrutiny from humorless scolds.

Netflix released Chappelle’s special on Oct. 5, 2021, and immediately drew backlash and accusations of transphobia. Chappelle received the award after angry LGBTQ advocates spent a year calling for Chappelle’s cancellation from festivals and public events.

Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. defended the award going for Chappelle, arguing that the will of the academy’s voters must be respected.

“If the voters feel like a creator deserves a nomination, they’re going to vote for them,” Mason told the Hollywood Reporter. “We’re never going to be in the business of deciding someone’s moral position or where we evaluate them to be on the scale of morality. I think our job is to evaluate the art and the quality of the art. We can make sure that all of our spaces are safe and people don’t feel threatened by anyone. But as far as the nominations or the awards, we really let the voters make that decision.”

LGBTQ advocates were enraged at Chappelle’s claims that “gender is a fact” and his self-identification as “team TERF” — an acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” (RELATED: School Resists Canceling Dave Chappelle, Says Theater Will Be Named After Legendary Comedian) 

In the special, Chappelle drew attention to the cancellation of rapper DaBaby, who engaged in a fatal shootout with the late 19-year-old Jalyn Craig in 2018. Police dismissed the case due to the inability to receive information from a key witness. DaBaby, whose real name is Jonathan Kirk, continued his rise to prominence after the shooting but was dropped from multiple festival lineups after making homophobic remarks.

“In our country, you can shoot and kill a [n-word] — but you better not hurt a gay person’s feelings,” Chappelle joked.

A transgender employee at Netflix staged a walkout in Oct. 2021, and was later terminated from the company. Netflix senior engineer Terra Field, who identified as transgender, queer and polyamorous, accused Chappelle of attacking the transgender community in an Oct. 7, 2021, tweet.

“I work at @netflix,” Field tweeted. “Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups.”

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended the company’s decision to air the comedy special in two memos to staff, despite a wave of protesters who gathered outside Netflix offices, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Chappelle previously criticized the backlash to his special, telling a crowd in Oct. 2021 that “corporate interest” is attempting to control speech.

“Do not blame the LBGTQ Community for any of this shit, this has nothing to do with them,” Chappelle said. “It’s about corporate interest and what I can say and what I cannot say. For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”