Storied Minneapolis venue scraps Dave Chappelle set

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Minnesota's famed First Avenue venue canceled comedian Dave Chappelle's show mere hours before he was set to go on, responding to protests from staff and the community over jokes many people have deemed transphobic.

Chappelle's Wednesday show was switched instead to Minneapolis' Varsity Theater, where he will also perform on Thursday and Friday.

"To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry," First Avenue said in a statement.

"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."

Chappelle, winner of the 2019 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, has been accused of taking particular aim at the transgender community in his comedy specials, notably in October's "The Closer," which drew protests by activists who said it encouraged discrimination.

The performer has doubled down on his jokes and the powers that be at Netflix have cited his "creative freedom" as reason to keep the much-watched show, released in 2021, available.

First Avenue -- well-known as a backdrop in Prince's beloved 1984 film "Purple Rain" -- said "we believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression" but that "we lost sight of the impact this would have."

"We know there are some who will not agree with this decision; you are welcome to send feedback," the independently owned venue added.

Chappelle's jokes -- which have included asserting that "gender is a fact" -- have drawn widespread protest at rallies, online and from groups including GLAAD, a media watchdog and rights advocacy group, as well as The National Black Justice Coalition.


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