Dave Chappelle's surprise appearance at his former high school was 'the most narcissistic display I've seen,' a student who was in attendance says
- Dave Chappelle visited his former high school earlier this week.
- A student in attendance said Chappelle's visit was "a grotesque display of ego and narcissism."
A student who attended Dave Chappelle's recent appearance at the comedian's former high school said it was a "grotesque" display of "ego and narcissism."
Multiple media outlets reported that Chappelle made a surprise visit to his alma mater — the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC — on Tuesday to speak with students before Thanksgiving. The school had initially postponed plans for the comedian to appear at a school fundraiser after students threatened to organize a walkout over comments Chappelle made about trans people in his recent Netflix comedy special "The Closer."
But Allyson Finch Wilson, whose 16-year-old son, Andrew Wilson, attends Duke Ellington, said the parents of students at the school received an email Tuesday afternoon informing them that "there would be a special assembly, so kids would get let out 30 minutes later than normal."
—Allyson Finch Wilson (@allyson_wilson) November 25, 2021
Andrew told Insider that students were instructed to place their cellphones in "pouches" as they approached the assembly hall. Shortly after, Chappelle came out onstage and asked any students who were offended by him to raise their hands and approach the stage to voice their grievances.
"Two transgender people were in line, and one transgender person was trying to explain. And Dave Chappelle kept talking over him and blatantly disrespecting the fact that he was talking, and trying to make a joke out of the situation," Andrew told Insider.
"And then the second transgender person tried to explain to Dave Chappelle what misgendering was, and Dave Chappelle interrupted her and completely ignored that," he added. "And then moved on to the next person."
Misgendering is the act of referring to a person with a gender that does not match their gender identity.
'It was just a grotesque display of ego and narcissism'
Andrew added that at the end of the evening, Chappelle proceeded to tell the students: "I am better at what I do than all of you in this room combined."
He added: "It was just a grotesque display of ego and narcissism."
Andrew later said that throughout the event, Chappelle — who appeared onstage with film cameras for a documentary — was reluctant to engage with the concerns of the students but continually told the audience that they "can't silence" him.
"He kept on saying, 'You can't silence me. How dare you try to silence me.' Not one person in that room was trying to silence him at all," Andrew said.
"One girl raised her hand and said, 'I understand what you're saying, and I respect your art, but you don't understand how many transgender people die every day,'" he said. Andrew added that Chappelle then interrupted the girl and said people die every day, using the N-word instead of "people."
Representatives for Chappelle did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. But Carla Sims, a spokesperson for Chappelle, provided a statement to the news site Politico, which initially reported that Chappelle had visited the school.
"He said these kids deserve an F for forgiveness," Sims said of Chappelle's response to the evening. "Give them some space to grow. They are going to say things that are immature."
Andrew, who identifies as gay, said Chappelle's appearance was "the most narcissistic display I have ever seen in my entire life" because of the comedian's "attitude and ego."
"You could just tell that he didn't take that situation seriously and how he didn't want to be there. That was definitely very clear in his action throughout the entire night," Andrew said.
The event ended, he said, with the school's principal coming out onstage with Chappelle "and they hugged and laughed."
He added: "And then he brought Erykah Badu out."
Andrew's mother — who is also a Duke Ellington alumnus — added that the goal had never been to "cancel culture" Chappelle, whom she said had been a "tremendous benefactor" to the school, but to facilitate an environment where the students can engage with Chappelle without "such a wild power dynamic."
Chappelle has been a prominent supporter of Duke Ellington School of the Arts over the years, donating a total of $100,000 and giving the school one of his Emmy awards, according to Deadline. Chappelle also held a master class for students in 2017 that featured fellow Bradley Cooper and Chris Tucker.
The outcry over "The Closer" — the sixth stand-up special Chappelle has had on Netflix — has been widespread. In the special, Chappelle voiced support for the "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, who has been criticized for anti-trans comments. During a monologue, Chappelle also said that "gender is a fact" and "every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth."
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