Elon Musk is no stranger to controversy and backlash, but it looks like he’s never experienced it quite like this.
During a stand-up comedy show in San Francisco on Sunday, comedian Dave Chappelle—no stranger to creating uproar himself—brought Musk on stage.
Chappelle told his audience to “make some noise for the richest man in the world,” according to a video posted to Twitter. The original post has been taken down, but the video is being widely circulated.
What follows Chappelle’s introduction of Musk appears to be mostly booing.
From the stage, Chappelle called the crowd’s reaction a mix of “cheers and boos.” But one Twitter user who was at the show, James Yu, said a “good 80%” of the crowd booed.
“I actually felt bad for him. I’m by no means an Elon fanboy, more a centrist,” Yu wrote. “I wanted to shake him: for the love of god man, say something and pretend it’s a tweet!!”
Another user, Illana Stern, wrote: “@elonmusk just got booed like I’ve never heard before on stage with @davechapelle and @chrisrock. He couldn’t get a word in, the crowd booed for 10 minutes. Not favored on his home turf. He looked stunned, must not get enough feedback IRL.”
On Monday, Musk came to his own defense and said only a small percentage of the crowd booed. But it appears to be the first time he’s ever experienced anything like it, at least outside of the digital space.
“Technically, it was 90% cheers & 10% boos (except during quiet periods), but, still, that’s a lot of boos, which is a first for me in real life (frequent on Twitter),” he tweeted. “It’s almost as if I’ve offended SF’s unhinged leftists … but nahhh.”
Twitter is headquartered in San Francisco, and shortly after Musk took over, he cut cut around half of its workforce, demanded that remaining employees commit to an “extremely hardcore” work culture, and required employees to work in the office. The platform experienced a surge in hate speech shortly after he took the helm, along with an advertiser exodus over the fear about how he will moderate content.
When the booing began after Musk stepped onstage, Chappelle quipped: “sounds like some of the people you fired.”
The comedian went on to joke that all the people who were booing had “terrible seats,” and said that Musk’s whole business model is “f*ck Earth, I’m leaving anyway,” referring to the billionaire’s longtime goal of colonizing Mars.
“Thanks for having me on stage,” Musk said, trying to get a few words in over the crowd’s boos. The two then joked about having a comedy club on Mars as the crowd continued to loudly boo, before Musk asked, “Dave, what should I say?”
Chappelle told him not to say anything, telling Musk it’s the sound of “pending civil unrest.” Chappelle wished nothing but peace for the audience—ending the show before Musk could say anything worthwhile.
The IRL boos over the weekend preceded another Twitter backlash against the Tesla and SpaceX billionaire over the weekend, after he seemed to mock trans people and those who support gender fluidity, while calling for the White House’s outgoing chief medical adviser to be prosecuted for his handling of the pandemic.
“My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” Musk wrote on Sunday.
Following Musk’s tweet, former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on Twitter on Sunday asked him to not mock and promote hate toward the already-marginalized LGBTQ+ community, and defended Fauci.
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