What Is Dave Chappelle Doing These Days?
Dave's Finally Back!
Dave Chappelle is back doing what he loves best - stand-up comedy. On March 21st Netflix is premiering two new specials. On November 12th he hosted Saturday Night Live - so I think that it's safe to say that Dave has come back to his eagerly awaiting fans for good.
Dave's been busy all during 2016, giving shows across the U.S.A. and Canada. Among other venues, he appeared at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee for eight shows followed up with five early-February shows in Toronto. He also toured Australia, and returned to Radio City Music Hall in 2015 from June 18th to June 26th. At that time he appeared on David Letterman's Tonight Show, and gave a remarkably frank interview, stating that "I never quit, I am seven years late for work".
He was the headliner for the Funny or Die Oddball and Curiosity Festival, which ran from August 23rd to September 22nd. Once the "Festival" was finished, he continued giving performances in Alaska, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Ames Iowa, and Minneapolis Minnesota.
The Funny or Die tour was Dave's first big tour in years. On the opening of the first show, Dave was greeted enthusiastically by his fans. One reporter stated that there was a shared sense of gratitude between Dave and his fans. At the end of the show, Dave said “I missed you guys more than you missed me".
Unfortunately, things did not go so well at the August 29th show in Hartford Connecticut. Unruly fans interrupted the show and were making so much noise that Dave stopped his act and read a book. After 25 minutes, he walked off the stage and left an angry crowd booing. In defense of Chappelle's irritation with the crowd, it was reported in a Laugh Spin article that it was primarily the Hartford audience's fault, stating that Chappelle had politely asked the crowd to stop making noise, but the hecklers continued. Their refusal to calm down made it impossible for Chappelle to go on with his act.
The upset in Hartford didn't dampen Chappelle's fans' enthusiasm, however. He was greeted warmly at Pittsburgh's First Niagara Pavilion, where he thanked the crowd for being the first to pick him up after a nasty spill. He even brought his wife Elaine, his children, and some other family members onstage to celebrate Elaine's 39th birthday. The crowd embraced him with shouts of "We love you" and "We miss you". The rest of the tour continued successfully and ended in Minnesota on a high note. Dave has a special connection to his Minnesota fans, and extended his sold out shows three times. Dave even gave his fans a chance to have a pancake breakfast with him at a charity event benefiting the Timberwolves’ Fast Break Foundation.
Dave had started to make more frequent appearances before the Funny or Die tour. On March 25th 2013 he did two shows at the Independent Comedy Club in San Francisco, and on March 27th and 28th he appeared at the Chapel. Tickets quickly sold out for all shows. These appearances followed three unexpected appearances at New York's legendary Comedy Cellar. At the Cellar, he was joined by some friends - Paul Mooney, Kevin Hart, Marlon Wayans and Chris Rock. He and Chris were even joking on stage about touring together, something that they've been talking about for years. It was reported that Rock said "You should come down to Palm Beach," to which Chappelle allegedly replied "After next Tuesday I'm free for like 11 years." That appearance fueled rumors that perhaps he would be making a comeback.
For awhile in 2012 Chris was appearing on stage intermittently. On August 19th 2012 he appeared at the Fillmore Detroit for his first stand-up comedy act in Detroit in six years. According to B. J. Harris of the Detroit Free Press, Chappelle gave a two-and-a-half hour show that mixed planned material about pop culture, politics, race and art along with some more relaxed free-style interaction with the crowd. Harris said that his connection with his fans shined through. He left the stage to a standing ovation. On August 21st he appeared in Toronto at the Winter Garden Theater and did an 80 minute bit. One reviewer stated that the act confirmed that Chappelle is still one of the top stand up comedians in the world.
I am so glad to hear that he is doing comedy again, and I really hope that he will continue. His fans, myself included, have missed him. He is one of the funniest and most natural comedians of our time.
Dave Goes Missing
The Chappelle Show aired on Comedy Central from 2003-2005 and was wildly successful. Having just signed a 50 million dollar contract with Comedy Central to do two more seasons of the show, Chappelle fled to South Africa without telling anyone. Once it was found out where he was, wild rumors flew around. There were claims being made that he was on drugs, or that he had committed himself into a mental institution. He refuted all of those rumors, but still the stories persisted.
Interestingly, even an outrageous conspiracy theory popped up concerning the whole event of Dave's departure from the limelight. According to "The Chappelle Theory" put forth by an anonymous public relations executive, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg and Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, were unhappy with Chappelle. They thought that his portrayal of African Americans reinforced negative stereotypes. The theory states that the group pressured Chappelle to change his comedy through a campaign of terror tactics, including death threats. Oh, come on now – I just can't envision this group making death threats!
What Chappelle Said Happened Back in 2006
I wanted to watch the videos of Chappelle talking rather than reading someone else's slant on what happened. What I saw was a thoughtful young man who was running scared. He claimed that he had been in the entertainment business from the time he was 14, and had been through all of the craziness that the entertainment business can bring. When he was offered the 50 million dollar contract, he was a 32 year old man with a wife and 2 children. He had just been offered so much money that it threatened to change his life forever. In the interviews, he claimed that it already had changed his life. There was enormous pressure on him to bring the show together. There was the question of whether or not he could trust those around him to give him good advice. He felt as if his inner circle had changed in the way they acted towards him. He questioned if he was going in the right direction with his comedy.
The same intelligence and insight that made me love Dave Chappelle as a comedian showed up in those interviews. This was a young man going through a crisis of the soul. Here was a man that was afraid of losing his core values to money and fame, and felt an obligation to himself and to his fans to reevaluate his life and his work. He took himself out of the entertainment circus, and has since lived a quiet life on his 65 acre farm in Yellow Springs Ohio with his wife and three children
Up Until Now, Only Sporadic Appearances
In 2005 and 2007 he did some shows in Los Angeles. At a charity event at the Seminole Indian Casino in 2011 he was greeted by many people in the audience filming him on their phones, and then heckling him. After one joke, he stopped the show and did nothing but walk around sighing and checking his text messages. His account of it in an interview on San Francisco's "Doghouse FM" radio show was that the audience didn't let him do anything. The whole front row starting to heckle him to the point that he was unable to continue the show. In June of this year he did a successful show in Dallas. Following that, however, he appeared at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas and was heckled to the point where he couldn't even deliver his lines properly. He finished the show, but it was difficult. I read comments from people attending the show, and they said Dave was great, but that the hecklers were a bunch of jerks and that most of them were drunk.
Is Dave Back for Good?
The news that Dave is touring again and that he will be hosting Saturday Night Live is wonderful. His fans have missed his sharp, insightful humor so very much, and it seems as if these tours and his high profile appearance on SNL mean that he's finally returning for good. It sure seems that way. Whatever he does, I wish him good luck and hope that he finds the happiness and balance that he is trying to achieve between his personal and professional life.
© 2012 Margaret Perrottet