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Fans ‘ambushed’ by surprise Dave Chappelle appearance at John Mulaney show

Lily Wakefield May 22, 2022
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John Mulaney performs onstage

John Mulaney invited Dave Chappelle as a surprise guest. (Getty Images for Robin Hood/ Kevin Mazur)

John Mulaney is facing searing backlash from fans, who felt “ambushed” when anti-trans comedian Dave Chappelle appeared as a special guest at his show.

Chappelle was invited to open Mulaney’s stand-up show in Ohio on Friday (20 May) as a surprise guest, but the 15-minute act did not go down well with attendees.

Last year, Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer in which he unashamedly mocked the trans community and said he was “team TERF” was slammed by viewers, and prompted a mass walk out by Black and trans Netflix staff.

Despite the backlash, and Chappelle’s insistence that he was a victim of “cancel culture”, he has since been handed another Netflix special.

Recording was forbidden at Mulaney’s Ohio show, but attendees have reported that he made further anti-trans jibes. Ahead his set, Mulaney hugged him on stage, they said.

One Twitter user wrote: “My favorite part of tonight was when Dave Chappelle ambushed us at the John Mulaney show, told a bunch of transphobic jokes, a massive stadium of people laughed, and then John Mulaney hugged him at the end… Being trans is so exhausting, I can’t even have a nice night out without being reminded that most of society wants trans people dead.”

Another asked: “Y’all ever hear ~12,000 people laugh at a transphobic joke, while you’re a trans person in the audience who didn’t know the transphobic comedian would make a surprise appearance at the John Mulaney show? Yeah. Wasn’t fun. F**k you DC.”

“While I’m disappointed in John Mulaney, I’m not surprised,” said a third.

“It speaks to how normalized transphobia is in comedy and how cis dudes don’t have to care about it, so they won’t. My sympathy lies with trans folks in the audience who wanted a fun night and got a reminder of hate instead.”

One parent took to social media to tell Mulaney that he was his trans son’s favourite comedian, but his could no longer consider his material “safe”.

“You are my trans teenage son’s favourite comedian, and we’ve felt like he’s safe consuming your material,” he said.

“That’s no longer true and I hope you’ll do the work to win back the trust of him and every other marginalised and endangered fan.”

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