Comedian Hannah Gadsby is not happy that Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos is citing her stand-up specials as evidence that the platform does not have a Dave Chappelle problem.
In a memo to his staff this week, Sarandos doubled down on his defense of Chappelle’s latest special The Closer following in-house protests from trans employees. “We are working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story. So we have ‘Sex Education,’ ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Control Z,’ Hannah Gadsby and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix, he wrote. “Key to this is increasing diversity on the content team itself.”
“Hey Ted Sarandos! Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess,” Gadsby shot back on Instagram late Thursday night. “Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view.”
“You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real world consequences of the hate speech dog whistling you refuse to acknowledge, Ted. Fuck you and your amoral algorithm cult…” the Australian comedian continued. “I do shits with more back bone than you. That’s just a joke! I definitely didn’t cross a line because you just told the world there isn’t one.”
Gadsby has been at the center of an industry-wide debate about what constitutes stand-up comedy after her often heartbreaking special Nanette first made a huge splash on Netflix in 2018. After saying she had intended to quit comedy, she decided to follow up that massively successful hour with a second special called Douglas that intentionally—and hilariously—skewers her unlikely rise to comedy stardom.
All of that is what makes this very public break from Netflix a very big deal. It’s the platform that made her internationally famous and she is evidently willing to dramatically sever that relationship in protest of Chappelle’s anti-trans material and Netflix’s willingness to defend it on her back.
Anticipating some of the feedback she might receive, Gadsby captioned her post, “Yes I watched the whole thing. Leave me alone. #transisbeautiful #comedyisdead #ikilledit.”
And even within the Instagram comments, the comedy community was split.
“Now that’s what you call, ‘punching up!’” Wanda Sykes wrote in support of Gadsby. Sykes, whose most recent special was also on Netflix, previously tweeted, “Just sending some love to my trans sisters,” amid the Chappelle backlash.
But Michelle Wolf, who performed with Chappelle regularly over the past couple of years and has plenty of reason to dislike Netflix after they abruptly canceled her show The Break the same year Nanette premiered to raves, appeared to take the other side.
“Correct. There isn’t one,” she wrote, referring to Gadsby’s comment about “crossing a line,” adding, “You’re catching on.”
After Gadsby replied, “I thought the line is that you can’t make fun of comedy?” Wolf shot back, “Ah yes, I forgot, you hold the one true definition of stand up.”
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