“To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry,” First Avenue said in a statement, which was posted to social media less than three hours before the show was scheduled to begin. “We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down. We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a room, but meaningful beyond our walls.”
The Washington Post said the venue had faced blowback for booking Chappelle for a surprise, sold-out performance in the months that followed his 2021 Netflix special, “The Closer,” in which the comedian doubled down on jokes about the LGBTQ community after past accusations of homophobia and transphobia. Last week, Chappelle received an Emmy nomination for the special, further fueling controversy.
Wednesday’s show at First Avenue was moved to the Varsity Theater, which said it would honor all First Avenue tickets originally purchased for the show. Chappelle was already scheduled to perform Thursday and Friday at the Varsity Theater.
The Washington Post also noted a Minneapolis Star Tribune story that reported dozens of protestors gathered outside the Varsity Theater to oppose Chappelle chanting, “Trans rights matter!” and holding signs saying, “Transphobia isn’t a joke.”
Chappelle reportedly teased the protesters during his Wednesday night set but urged those in attendance at the Varsity Theater to keep supporting First Avenue, the Star Tribune reported.
“It’s an important place for our culture,” he said.