Dave Chappelle Secretly Released A Netflix Special

Dave Chappelle released a Netflix production on Friday though it's not exactly a comedy special. It is something different from the comedian

By Doug Norrie | Published

dave chappelle

Dave Chappelle has drummed up some controversy over the last couple of years, but that doesn’t have him out of business on Netflix. Far from it. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The streaming platform has been committed to keeping things rolling with Chappelle and that isn’t likely to change even if there has been some backlash with both the audience and within their own ranks. Now, it appears the streamer has dropped another Chappelle performance onto the platform with the release of What’s In A Name. Though this one hit Netflix with considerably less fanfare than some other Chappelle productions in the past. It’s a different kind of special though, one recorded almost in direct response to some of the criticism Dave Chappelle has received recently. 

Deadline has it that the Dave Chappelle production What’s In A Name was recorded and produced from a talk the comedian gave at his old high school back in June. It was at the naming ceremony for a theater at Washington DC’s Duke Ellington School of Arts. Originally, this ceremony was supposed to have taken place the previous fall but was put on hold in the wake of backlash Chappelle was receiving at the time due to his most recent Netflix special. Rescheduling it to June was in hopes of having some of the public scrutiny Chappelle was facing die down some.

What’s In a Name is the speech Dave Chappelle gave to the students and crowd at the theater naming ceremony. The theater was going to be named after the comedian but was changed when Chappelle drew considerable criticism for his Netflix special The Closer. In the wake of that, Chappelle declined to have it named after him.

In The Closer, Chappelle discussed issues he’d had with the transgender community and there were some that felt his comments and routine amounted to something well beyond comedy. In his speech at the Duke Ellington event, highlighted in the latest Netflix release, Dave Chappelle defended his artistic expression, and right to free speech. He encouraged the crowd to look beyond what was reported in the media and instead at the truth behind some of these hot-button topics. Here’s a snippet of what Chappelle had to say about it:

“The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it. And it has nothing to do with what you’re saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my right, my freedom of artistic expression. That is valuable to me. That is not severed from me. It’s worth protecting for me, and it’s worth protecting for everyone else who endeavors in our noble, noble professions.”

This is likely to drum up even more debate about Dave Chappelle, his comedy, and his choice of topics while on stage. There will be those who contend that this kind of attitude towards sensitive topics is exactly what they don’t want to see from the comedian. But Chappelle, one of the best to ever do it in the stand-up world, has dug his heels in, and from a freedom and expression point of view, it’s hard to argue with the process.

His comedy has almost always been self-effacing, touching on topics but also placing himself in the center of them as someone who often doesn’t understand and is trying to figure it all out himself. This has clearly rubbed many the wrong way. But if Dave Chappelle’s most recent speech is any indication, he has no plans on changing. You can see What’s In a Name on Netflix now.