SNL writers reportedly may be boycotting Dave Chappelle's episode
“They’re not going to do the show,” an insider told Page Six.
Tensions seem to be running high over at Saturday Night Live amid Dave Chappelle’s return as host of this week’s show. On Wednesday, Page Six reported that multiple SNL writers are boycotting Chappelle’s episode because of the comedian’s (pretty recent) history of transphobia.
“They’re not going to do the show,” an insider reportedly told Page Six. “But none of the actors are boycotting.” A rep for Chappelle disputed this, telling TMZ Thursday morning that it’s business as usual over at 30 Rock, and “everyone’s pitching sketch ideas as they normally do.”
While the report of a potential boycott hasn’t been confirmed or denied by NBC Universal (Saturday Night Live’s parent company), one of the show’s writers, Celeste Yim, did take to Instagram earlier this week with a story seemingly alluding to SNL’s decision to invite Chappelle back as host. “I’m trans and non-binary. I use they/them pronouns,” read the text overlay on their Instagram story, as shown in a screenshot shared on Reddit and elsewhere. “Transphobia is murder and it should be condemned.”
Chappelle, who has hosted SNL twice before, made headlines in 2021 with the release of his controversial Netflix special, The Closer, which is objectively riddled with transphobic commentary.
In it, Chappelle joked about outing and beating up trans people, taking issue with Caitlyn Jenner’s 2015 Woman of the Year Award win, defending JK Rowling and her own transphobic beliefs, and more. While Chappelle’s long standing career seems immune to the continuous outcry and criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates and viewers alike — Netflix still released Chappelle’s What’s In A Name, a recording of a speech the comedian gave at his alma mater the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in July — the hateful comments have certainly left a mark on his legacy. Some venues have canceled his previously scheduled stand-up shows, and film festivals have pulled their support for a documentary he had created.
“The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it,” Chappelle said in his speech captured in What’s In A Name. “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.”
Chappelle’s damaging statements and intentional refusal to support all people — including the trans communities — is a pressure cooker. This goes beyond landing a tasteless, transphobic joke at a comedy club or sketch show. There are serious repercussions to this sort of rhetoric, and we see many of them in the current wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
The Trevor Project’s Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs Preston Mitchum shared his sentiments in a 2021 opinion piece for The Grio. “I have witnessed firsthand how anti-LGBTQ rhetoric like Chappelle’s can harm one’s sense of self and exacerbate mental health challenges,” he wrote. “And as a Black queer person who has deeply struggled in navigating the intersections of my identity, none of this is funny to me at all.”
Mic has reached out to Lim and NBC Universal for comment but has not heard back.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for LGBTQ+ mental health or safety concerns, call The Trevor Project's 24/7 Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386). You can also reach out for instant message or text message support via TrevorChat and TrevorText, respectively. For additional resources for trans people, call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860. In an emergency, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988, or call 911.