Still riding a wave of controversy following his latest Netflix special, comedian Dave Chappelle made a less than triumphant return to his former high school.
Chapelle paid a surprise visit to his alma mater, Washington DC's Duke Ellington School of the Arts, camera crew in tow. The school had announced plans to rename their theatre after Chapelle.
But after student criticism of transphobic content found in his comedy, which also resulted in considerable internal strife at Netflix, the school announced they would delay renaming the theatre. A statement released by the school said they would move forward with renaming the theatre after "addressing questions and concerns from members of the Ellington community."
And indeed, many of the 580 students in attendance during Chapelle's visit seemed to have plenty of concerns.
As reported by Politico, Chapelle was greeted by simultaneous applause and boos upon taking the stage. Things only seemed to get worse during the Q&A.
One student reportedly called Chappelle "a bigot" and condemned how he handled all the negative feedback.
"I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child."However, Chappelle stood his ground in the face of the animosity he received from the audience. He then told all the students present he was "better" than them.
"My friend, with all due respect, I don’t believe you could make one of the decisions I have to make on a given day."
"I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I’m better than all of you."
Chappelle then either acknowledged or mocked the potential there were stars in the making sitting in the audience.
His sincerity was unclear when he said:
"I’m sure that will change."
"I’m sure you’ll be household names soon."
As news broke of Chapelle's controversial comments, Twitter users weighed in.
Others didn't find much humor in his visit, expressing anger and disappointment.
If Chappelle wasn't earning support from most of the students that day, he also caused a rift with some parents.
After one student called out "your comedy kills" from the audience, Chapelle responded by using the n-word.
"[N-word]s are killed every day.”
“The media’s not here, right?"
A cell phone ban among the students resulted in no viral recordings, as of yet, of Chapelle's appearance.
But word quickly got back to parents, who were understandably disturbed by Chappelle's response.
"As a parent, I have to say I have a real problem."
"He was being dead serious and using the n-word on the record."
"What kind of judgment is the school showing to allow that?"
However, Chappelle's spokesperson Carla Sims didn't agree his use of the n-word at a high school assembly was anything to be concerned about.
"They are complaining that he talked and said the n-word."
"If anything, Dave is putting the school on the map.”
Chappelle had been one of Duke Ellington's most significant donors, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the school which prompted renaming the theatre.
Chapelle didn't seem to leave with any hard feelings towards any of the students in attendance, giving each of the students three tickets to a screening of his documentary "Untitled" at the Capitol One Arena, as well as 600 Thanksgiving dinners for students and faculty.
Sims went on to tell Politico Chappelle had no intention of making an apology during his surprise appearance, but rather hoped to earn the student's forgiveness.
"He said these kids deserve an F for forgiveness.”
“Give them some space to grow."
"They are going to say things that are immature."
Duke Ellington has currently delayed plans to rename the school in Chapelle's name until April of 2022.
Whether or not Chapelles' recent appearance earned enough forgiveness to follow through with that remains unclear.
But an Instagram by Chappelle this past Friday might have rendered that irrelevant.
“Having the theater named after me is a great honor."
"Although, that was not my idea, aim or desire."
"At the request of our beloved school’s founder, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, I accepted."
“In April, I intend to honor that request."
Chappelle called for donations for those who were for or against naming the theatre after him, and declared whichever side raised more money would be the deciding factor.
"If you object to my receiving this honor, I urge you to donate to the school noting your objection."
"If you are in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle’, I urge you to donate to the school, noting your approval."
"Whichever opinion donates the highest collective dollar amount, wins."
"If by April, those against the ‘Chappelle’ theater exceed the donations of those who are neutral or in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle’, I will gladly steal aside."
"If not, I will happily attend the naming ceremony."
"And if you don’t care enough to donate… please shut the f*ck up, forever. – Dave."