When asked about the controversy over Chappelle’s latest stand-up special, The Closer, for a new New York Times story, Hart was adamant that his fellow comic is a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.
“That man don’t have a hateful bone in his body. And I don’t say that because it’s hypothetical — I say that because I know him,” Hart said. “I know his world. I know that he embraces the LGBT+ community, because he has friends who are close to him from that community. I know that his kids understand equality, fair treatment, love. I know that his wife embeds that in their kids. I know why people embrace him. He’s a good dude.”
Since The Closer premiered Oct. 5 on Netflix, it has been condemned by advocacy organizations, including GLAAD and the National Black Justice Coalition. Employees of the streamer walked out in protest. There were new developments Tuesday, when the two employees who had led the internal movement against the special, Terra Field and B. Pagel-Minor, withdrew a complaint they had filed with National Labor Relations Board alleging that the company had retaliated against them for their activism. Neither the employees nor Netflix discussed terms of the withdrawal. Field announced Monday that she had resigned from the company altogether.
Chappelle came up in the conversation when the interviewer, Dave Itzkoff, noted that the comic had been the one defending Hart in the special. The Chappelle Show star said he thought Hart had been treated unfairly when he stepped down from hosting the 2019 Oscars, just two days after he had been announced. Some of Hart’s years-old tweets, which included homophobic terms and anti-gay sentiment, had resurfaced and, though Hart apologized, the uproar continued. Itzkoff asked how Hart felt about Chappelle’s words.
“That’s my brother,” Hart said. “My relationship with Dave is one that I value, respect and appreciate. In our profession, it’s a crab-in-a-barrel mentality. There’s this perception that there can only be one star or one funny guy, and we’re always pitted against each other. When you have that confidence and security to embrace another talent and stand by another talent, it says a lot about who you are. Chappelle’s operating at a different frequency, man, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Itzkoff asked if Hart worried that Chappelle mentioning his situation might upset people all over again.
“In what world is a friend not going to be a friend if he wants to be a friend?” Hart said. “With Dave, I think the media have an amazing way of making what they want a narrative to be. Within this conversation attached to Dave, nobody’s hearing what his attempt is. They’re hearing a narrative that’s been created. So the conversation is now amplified into something that has nothing to do with the beginning of what it was. That’s where it gets lost. Everybody needs to come down off the soapbox and get to a place of solution.”
The star of the upcoming drama True Story said that, in his own situation, he learned a lesson about his ego. While at first he was upset that people wanted him to apologize for something he felt that he’d apologized for earlier, he later realized it was about more.
“It was about the people who wanted to know that I don’t support violence in any type of way. Because I missed it, that doesn’t make me a person who hates — that makes me oblivious to a moment because I was wrapped up in my own [expletive],” Hart said. “I was human. You can’t lose that. And that’s what happening today: We’re losing that in the attempt to say, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong and that’s it.’ I don’t understand how we ever evolve.”