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Comedians were left outraged Wednesday when iconic funnyman Dave Chappelle had a scheduled performance at First Avenue in Minneapolis canceled at the last minute after the venue caved to criticism from the left.
“It’s a direct assault on freedom of speech,” Joe Piscopo, a comedian and “Saturday Night Live” legend, told Fox News Digital.
“It’s like Lenny Bruce, it’s like the 1960s and them trying to shut down Lenny Bruce. It’s no different,” Piscopo continued. “Why are we going back to those times where we didn’t have freedom of speech?”
The potty-mouthed Bruce was famously controversial and was once convicted of a misdemeanor obscenity charge after he used foul language during his routine at a New York City club. He was pardoned 39 years after the incident in 2003 when then-Gov. George E. Pataki said New York was committed to “upholding the First Amendment.”
Chappelle’s Minnesota performance was first announced on Monday, and tickets to the show sold out in a matter of minutes Tuesday. But some fans of the popular downtown venue voiced their opinions against Chappelle, who has been at the center of controversy over his Netflix special, “The Closer,” because he made jokes surrounding the hot-button issues of gender identity and the LGBTQ community.
The backlash resulted in the cancellation of the show via an announcement shared on Twitter.
“It’s a shame the theater chickened out to a very small, minute group of protestors,” Piscopo said. “Lenny Bruce was a pioneer. Dave Chappelle is a pioneer and he’ll get through this as well. All those people complaining will fall by the wayside.”
Comedian Tim Young, who mocked First Avenue’s announcement with a response that received over 15,000 likes, believes the venue “deserves to fail” over the decision to cancel a comedy legend.
“In the statement from its management, it says that ‘we believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression,’… which is clearly a lie if they’re canceling on one of the most popular comedians in the world a mere two hours before his show,” Young told Fox News Digital.
“The venue is taking a stand on a nonsense argument that Netflix was even willing to let its staff quit over – that Chappelle is ‘transphobic’ – when he clearly isn’t. If anyone watches his specials, you see that he was great friends with a trans comedian – which would be the exact opposite of being transphobic,” Young continued. “This isn’t a venue or group of people taking a stand against something they don’t like – this is the far-left’s fascism in an attempt to gain importance.”
The scheduled performance was essentially canceled because of social media backlash, but the decision caused a new wave of Twitter backlash from people criticizing both cancel culture and the venue itself.
Young feels the decision makers of First Avenue are simply thirsty for power.
“Ultimately, the venue owners and staff believe that if they are able to shut down the ability of a powerful and famous comedian like Dave Chappelle to speak, they have the same perceived power as them – when they never will,” Young said.
While some have pondered if comedy can coexist with far-left cancel culture, Young doesn’t think comedians need to be concerned about the state of the industry.
“Comedy will continue beyond these venues that have failed their audience. Now Chappelle will have 30 to 45 minutes of material and conversation based off First Avenue’s behavior. We’ve seen how he’s handled this in the past, and he’s eviscerated this type of nonsense,” Young said. “Comedy will always continue in America when leftists and venues like First Avenue continue to make a joke of themselves with this type of behavior.”
First Avenue did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Fox Across America” host Jimmy Failla appeared Thursday on “FOX & Friends First” and mocked the club for declaring it believes “in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that we lost sight of the impact this would have” to the community.
“Anytime they say, ‘We believe in this but,’ you know what I mean, it’s like the old thing ‘don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against women drivers but,’” Failla said. “You always know they’re about to contradict what they just said.”
Failla then asked what “impact” the club was talking about.
“Anybody who doesn’t like his jokes doesn’t have to buy a ticket and go. That’s the point, you have an option,” he said. “Comedy is a buffet… the way it works is, everybody has a tray at the buffet, you see an item you like, in this case a joke, you throw it on the tray. You don’t like the item, you don’t stop and fight with the chef, you keep walking, everybody has their own tray.”
First Avenue’s Twitter feed was bombarded with comments denouncing the decision to allow the comedian to perform after announcing Chappelle’s new shows. However, Failla doesn’t even feel most critics who chime in on Twitter are truly offended at most of the outrage-causing topics the left has tried to cancel.
“Nobody is offended, I just think people know there is currency to be accrued from getting offended. I’m upset, give me something. I’m upset, cancel this show,” he said. “It’s the stupidest thing in the world, but again, just so everyone understands, if you come to a show and we make fun of you, we’re treating you as an equal. We’re not putting you off in a corner infantilized lesser-than.”
Meanwhile, Piscopo feels liberal politicians are far more offensive than any comedian.
“The most offensive things come out of the White House and on how we are as Americans. We’re bad, we’re racist. We’re everything phobic. We’re just terrible people, you know,” Piscopo said.
“The majority of Americans believe in this country. We love everybody and we want to embrace everybody. Well, you know what the problem is? Nobody’s in charge. We don’t have one person in charge in the country to speak the voice of everyone. There’s nobody in charge and that and all the press does is try to divide us,” he continued. “It confuses people… I think they got Mr. Chappelle in their crosshairs and I think it’s wrong. I think it’s racist in their behalf. You want to talk racist? I think it’s an assault on First Amendment. Everything that they’re calling everybody else is what they are. It’s called transference. They are racist. They are trying to shut down free speech.”
Chappelle’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fox News’ Tracy Wright contributed to this report.