Dave Chappelle jokes about apology during Rock & Roll Hall of Fame speech

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Chappelle began his speech by appearing to apologize to the transgender community.

Dave Chappelle made an appearance in Cleveland to help introduce Jay-Z at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday. He began his speech by seemingly apologizing to the transgender community for jokes made about them in his most recent Netflix special, The Closer.

“I would like to apologize…nah, I’m just f—ing with y’all,” Chappelle began before stopping himself to help induct the rapper-turned-mogul into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“I need everybody in rock and roll to know, that even though you are honoring him, he is ours. “You embody Black excellence, ” he said to Jay.

The comedian recently released video of a stand-up routine in which he said he’s willing to meet with transgender employees at Netflix but he will not bend “to anybody’s demands.” Trans activists and employees at Netflix organized a walkout and have urged the company to pull the special that many have condemned as transphobic.

36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony - Inside
Dave Chappelle (R) inducts Jay-Z onstage during the 36th Annual Rock / Getty

In the short video, which Chappelle posted to his 2.3 million followers on Instagram, the comic listed his own set of demands in order to meet with members of the transgender community.

“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me,” said Chappelle. “I am not bending to anybody’s demands. And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”

Gadsby is a lesbian comedian and critic of Chappelle’s.

Chappelle’s speech at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony followed a video tribute to Jay-Z that featured his wife Beyoncé, their daughter Blue Ivy and former President Barack Obama.

“I’ve turned to Jay-Z’s words at different points in my life, whether I was brushing dirt off my shoulder on the campaign trail, or sampling his lyrics on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 50th anniversary of the Selma march to Montgomery,” Obama said. “Today, Jay-Z is one of the most renowned artists in history and an embodiment of the American dream, a dream he has helped make real for other young people like him.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced in May that this year’s nominees for the 2021 ceremony included Foo Fighters, Carole King, Tina Turner, The Go-Gos and Todd Rundgren. Electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, singer-poet Gil Scott-Heron and Delta blues legend Charley Patton were inducted as early influencers and Sussex Records founder Clarence Avant received the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

The induction ceremony special will air Nov. 20 on HBO and HBO Max.

Chappelle will be taking his Untitled documentary on a 10-city screening tour, kicking off in San Francisco on Nov. 4, and wrapping in New York on Nov. 22. Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar, the film reportedly documents the comedy shows and performances Chappelle orchestrated at his ranch in Yellow Springs, Ohio during the 2020 lockdown.

This article contains additional reporting from theGRIO’s Biba Adams.

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