Dave Chappelle Draws Mixed Reactions for Comedy Show
Audience members of American comedian Dave Chappelle gave mixed reactions during a comedy special in Boston last week. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP / Tim Nwachukwu

Controversial American comedian Dave Chappelle ignited discussions about the Israel-Palestine conflict which drew in mixed reactions from a Boston crowd.

Chappelle, a practising Muslim, disclosed in his show at the TD Garden Arena in Massachusetts last Thursday that he condemned the militant Palestinian arm Hamas for their rocket attacks on Israel last October 7th, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Chappelle cited recent incidents where Palestinians all over the world are being denied job offers, which has led the comedian to discuss the tensions going on in the Middle East.

However, the same report adds that Chappelle also criticised the violence enacted upon Gaza by Israel, which did not sit well with some of the members of the present crowd.

Chappelle said that people have remained silent as Israel conducts unprecedented levels of violence in the Gaza Strip. He pointed to the United States, saying that his government has aided Israel in conducting war crimes against innocent civilians.

The comedian also condemned Israel for blocking incoming aid for victim relief in the Gaza Strip.

Walkouts and cheers for Chappelle

The account that the news outlet reported came from two members of the audience. The pair told The Wall Street Journal that a handful of the attendees walked out of Chappelle's set.

The account also said that an audience member heckled Chappelle, shouting at the comedian to shut up. Chappelle told the heckler to be quiet.

The allegations, however, also said that the audience cheered in support of Chappelle's tirade against the sensitive situation.

The account reported that most members of the audience chanted "Free Palestine!". When he heard the chants, Chappelle was reported to have said this as his response: "You're damn right, Free Palestine."

Chappelle's recent controversial set in Boston is a part of his It's A Celebration comedy tour. The tour momentarily confiscates mobile phones for the entire duration of the show.

This isn't the first time that Chappelle drew mainstream attention for his views. Just a year ago, Chappelle drew criticism for his material about transgenders, which were viewed as transphobic by most of the LGBTQIA+ community. The staff of Netflix wanted the comedy special, titled The Closer, to be taken off the service. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos held off against the notion, citing that the company commits to upholding free speech.

A rift in Hollywood

Elsewhere in Hollywood, the Israel-Hamas conflict has left its stars divided on the issue.

In a letter posted on Medium, a handful of members from the Writers Guild of America called out the guild leadership for not speaking out against the Palestinian offensive against Israel. The collective of Hollywood scribes includes names such as Sacha Baron-Cohen, Eli Roth and Jerry Seinfeld.

The Writers Guild of America East responded with a letter on Monday about the call-out. The letter read: "We in leadership agreed to move away from public statements that did not directly involve our Guild, our industries or the Labor movement. Such statements hindered journalist members' work, and divided rather than united us."

"We want to be clear: there is no place in this Guild — none at all — for antisemitism or Islamophobia," the letter added.

In addition to the WGA's internal disputes with its members, the Israel-Hamas conflict has also identified where some of Hollywood's biggest stars stood in the war.

One of the most prominent supporters of Israel has been former Israeli Defense Force physical trainer and Hollywood superstar Gal Gadot.

She has publicly stated on her Instagram page that "[She stands] with Israel, you should too. The world cannot sit on the fence when these horrific acts of terror are happening!"

Meanwhile, Hollywood socialite Gigi Hadid criticised Israel's destruction of Gaza, stating that "there is nothing Jewish about the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians".