Monday, August 26, 2013
Comedy review: A reinvented Dave Chappelle was more reflective than raunchy in Dallas
After eight years of silence, Chappelle is a new man.
FAIR PARK Comics are, in a way, society’s ordained realists. Whether dishing out parenting advice or weighing in on racism, their humor seems to drive a point home better than an ethics class could.
Comedian Dave Chappelle divulged some of his recent revelations Sunday night when he headlined the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival at Gexa Energy Pavilion. The comedian famously embarked on a sudden soul-searching trip to Africa in 2005, yet on Sunday, he returned to the spotlight looking as comfortable as ever, cigarette in his mouth and calmness in his voice. Fans could tell, however, that Chappelle is a changed man.
He fronted a festival bound for 15 cities and presented by website Funny or Die. The Dallas show contained a respectable lineup of cult fan favorites before Chappelle took the stage: Actor/comedian Godfrey hosted the show, linking laughs between stand up routines by Al Madrigal (The Daily Show), Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords), and Demetri Martin (The Daily Show), to name a few.
The venue was packed by the time the sun set behind Fair Park’s Ferris wheel. Sporadic waves of laughter rolled across the crowd as patrons sipped oversized beers, setting the vibe for an all-around good time. There was an unspoken excitement buzzing too — who would have thought Chappelle, in all his hilarity, would make such an immense comeback after eight years of silence?
Musical duo Flight of the Conchords worked their awkward sort of swagger over the crowd. New Zealanders Brent McKenzie and Jemaine Clement opened with a seductive acoustic tune to get the audience engaged before hitting the highlights of their discography like “Hurt Feelings” and “Song For Sally.”
“Dallas, Texas. Dallas, Texas,” contemplated Clement, the taller, more scowling half of the band/comedy group. “The whole name sounds like a porn star.”
McKenzie and Clement’s dynamic mirrored that of their acclaimed HBO series, as they musically dueled about women and downplayed issues of their friendship. During a new song, the two talked like father and son, making light of tense familial subjects and stirring the crowd into a fit of laughter.
Perhaps the most charming thing about Flight of the Conchords, however, is the musicians’ subtle, yet hilarious mannerisms that straddle the lines between nerdy, sexy, and absurd. Their storytelling capabilities are unparalleled in the industry today.
Flight of the Conchords capped off their set with a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” the blush-worthy original “Most Beautiful Girl,” and an electronic rendition of the famous “Business Time,” building hysterical momentum for the show’s headliner.
A brief moment of disbelief was followed by resounding applause when Chappelle emerged from behind a white sheet on the stage. The crowd was on its feet for minutes before the comic had to tell everyone to sit down and relax.
Chappelle turned 40 on August 24, the day before the Dallas show. From first joke to the last, he seemed a few years wiser.
Amid the lighthearted references to drugs, rap music, and sexual pleasure, Chappelle laid a more introspective foundation for his 45-minute set. He spoke of the pressures of show business, integrity, and the meaning of his alleged “comeback.” It seemed almost like Chappelle was justifying his journey, in hopes they would stick around. But fans were rapt, completely intrigued by his philosophies.
The show ended on a high note when Chappelle invited harmonica player Frédéric Yonnet on stage for a meditative couple of minutes. Chappelle laid down on stage as Yonnet wailed melodically.
“You cannot be hopeful unless you are hopeless,” Chappelle said previously in the evening. Many at Gexa Energy Pavilion simply seemed content that Chappelle had found enough hope to take back the microphone.
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