Is Dave Chappelle Back Or Nah???
Dave Chappelle is probably most remembered for being the popular comedian that walked away from $50 million dollars. Dave has never been a fan of hecklers and it's hecklers that somewhat weighed on his decision to leave his highly reviewed comedy skit television show, "The Chappelle Show" on Comedy Central. It's been nine years since his infamous fall from fame but he is once again hitting the stage to do what he loves as he headlines the 15-city Funny or Die Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Tour.
His fans are happy to see him back in his element but he once again, had what's being called a meltdown while performing in Hartford Connecticut. His show was in front of a pridominately white male crowd, in-fueled with alcohol that heckled him to that point that he sat down, and later walked off the stage. While the media continues to criticize Dave and thinks his so-called meltdown is typical for him, there was a memeber of the media in the audience, Ebony Magazine's Lesli-Ann Lewis -- she shared a very different perspective of how things unfolded that night...
"After engaging some of the heckling politely, Chappelle had enough. “I’ve been up here a while now and I thought it was me but now I ‘m sure it’s you. There is definitely something wrong with you.” he told us. In other words, ‘shut up and let me perform.’ Not many did. Finally, he gave up and took his cigarettes and his water and sat on stage.
The crowd got worse. People were booing, jeering. I heard a woman yell something that was drowned out by a guy near me screaming “DAVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEE” for the umpteenth time. But Dave hears her.
“Times like this, I wonder where Katt Williams is” He sips his water and stares at us meaningfully. There is a hush. The jeers begin again. When he decided he would not be doing the show, he responded to a voice in the crowd: “I’m going to have to read about this sh*t for months.”
And he will—and none of them will be fair. They will include bare facts; At the Hartford show, Dave Chappelle DID sit down and read an excerpt from an audience member’s book. At the Hartford show, Dave Chappelle did give the crowd the middle finger and tell us that we sucked (“You are booing yourself. I want you to go home and look in the mirror and say ‘boo,’ that’s how I feel about you.”)
Chappelle wasn’t having a meltdown. This was a Black artist shrugging the weight of White consumption, deciding when enough was enough. This isn’t the first time Chappelle has done so and it isn’t the first time his behavior has been characterized as a meltdown.
There is a long history of asking African-Americans to endure racism silently; it’s characterized as grace, as strength. Chappelle’s Connecticut audience, made up of largely young White males, demanded a shuck and jive. Men who seemed to have missed the fine satire of the Chappelle show demanded he do characters who, out of the context of the show look more like more racist tropes, than mockery of America’s belief in them.
When he expressed shock that he’d sat there and been yelled at for so long, people yelled they paid him. They felt paying for a show meant they could verbally harass him, direct him in any tone of voice, as though they’d bought him.
After his first “meltdown,” Chapelle said he left his show because he wasn’t sure if he was being laughed with or at. Seeing him walk off that stage last night, I think he’d decided on the answer. They had been missing his message, they weren’t laughing with him. And I’m glad to see that in Connecticut, he had the courage to laugh back."
I am myself a big fan of Chappelle. I hope that he continues to find the strength to do what he loves to do the most and that is to make people laugh with him, not at him.