Jon Stewart is putting on his public relations cap in defense of longtime friend, comedian Dave Chappelle, who Stewart is adamant was not trying to be divisive in his latest comedy special, “The Closer.”
Netflix employees staged a walkout on Wednesday after previously taking to social media and issuing internal memos to the streamer’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos, calling for the comedy offering to be removed from the platform after many felt Chappelle made jokes negatively impacting the transgender community.
“That’s a different element but I know he’s one of my favorite people on the planet and he’s just a good, decent… – you know, if there is any miscommunication, I’m sure that – I love that dude, like as a person,” Stewart, 58, told TMZ Thursday on Capitol Hill.
“He’s warm and wise and all those things,” added “The Problem with Jon Stewart” host, who was in Washington D.C. to lobby for approval of medical bills to military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. The former “Daily Show” cornerstone discussed the issue on a recent episode of his Apple TV+ series.
Protesters on Wednesday held signs outside of a Netflix office building in Los Angeles, California with the phrases “Trans lives matter” and “Transphobia is not a joke” among others.
Asked if he felt it was a promising idea for Chappelle to agree to a sit-down with enraged Netflix employees, Stewart said why not if it leads to open dialogue between the funnyman and those who felt slighted by Chappelle’s jokes.
“Look, if this spurs a conversation where people get more on the same page in terms of understanding that’d be great but I know his intention is never hurtful – like, he’s just not that kind of person,” Stewart explained in his defense of the “Sticks and Stones” orator, 48.
“And if it is [hurtful], it’s certainly unintentional,” Stewart pressed. “He’s really – he’s a good man.”
Meanwhile, amid cries from detractors to cancel Chappelle for his controversial remarks, the comedian just played to a sold-out crowd in London on the night of the Netflix employee walkout.
According to Variety, Chappelle told comedy-goers he plans to take “The Closer” on the road if it gets pulled from Netflix. Attendees claimed Chappelle said he would screen the special in 10 cities across the U.S.
One person reportedly told the outlet that Chappelle did mention that the protest taking place in Los Angeles “wasn’t favorable” for him. Another said the entertainer seemed “baffled” by the transphobia and homophobia accusations made against him.
Podcast host and commentator Joe Rogan also went to bat for Chappelle amid the uproar and said the jokes are “in no way transphobic.”