Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Review: Dave Chappelle returns to Dallas for a prized, one-time gig
The set was an entertaining snapshot into Chappelle's mind and helped quench the thirst of Chappelle's countless Dallas fans.
The buzz circling Dave Chappelle reached its peak in Dallas following the last-minute House of Blues gig that sold out in 12 hours or so. The show was announced a day before doors opened and was a talker since the favored Comedy Central comedian has not produced anything or toured in years.
What could be seen as his major meltdown occurred in 2005, when he walked away from a reported $50 million deal to tape the third season of his smash hit, Chappelle’s Show. He then moved to South Africa for a time, only making a few impromptu appearances including a short tour for “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” and some stand-up gigs in Los Angeles. In 2005, he told Time magazine that he went to Africa because he “needed to check his intentions” regarding the show and his overall life. After only a couple of recent gigs in Tennessee and Little Rock, Arkansas, Chappelle stopped in Dallas to give his fans what they’ve been dying for since 2006 – more Chappelle.
After a long DJ set and a hilarious 30-minute routine from Dallas’ own Paul Varghese (of Last Comic Standing), Chappelle stepped out to a standing ovation in a simple gray hoodie, torn jeans, and a sharp pair of Nikes. With no cameras or phones allowed, the crowd was all his. Right off the bat we could tell this wasn’t a rehearsed gig; it wasn't full of threads of jokes or stories told so many times that they were flawless. This was Chappelle doing what he does best – performing an off-the-wall stand-up comedy act compiled of a little old and a little new. No stranger to the stage, the 38-year old started with the apparently obligatory Dallas joke “Who shot J.R.?”, which warmed up the already-exuberant Dallas crowd.
Chain-smoking throughout, Chappelle spoke with billows of smoke lingering around him, taking puffs between lines. This set did not rehash his Chappelle’s Show bits or show off his famous celebrity imitations; he seemed to take the time just to brush up on his stand-up routine. He touched on his past days of smoking weed (and says those days are gone), going through his stereotypes of drug dealers – a familiar topic for Chappelle.
He talked about the various places he had traveled, sharing stories from Shanghai and cities around the United States. He openly admitted that he was stressed and needed new material, which gave him even more credibility to the adoring audience. He relied heavily on the crowd, calling out anyone leaving to ask questions about themselves. He also consistently replied to comments shouted out from the crowd, making the show seem smaller and more private than it really was.
Two hours later, after repeated jokes about a local "sponsorship" with Sfuzzi, an Uptown pizzeria he visited two days before, Chappelle called it a night, saying he was going to go have a pizza party and ride around the city on his motorcycle. He promised us that he would be back and ignited a roaring applause, only to shoot it down by saying it wouldn’t be for another four years.
Four years or every year, Chappelle is welcome back to Dallas anytime.