by Nile Fortner
Is Dave Chappelle Still a Comedy King?
Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages, grandmothers and grandfathers, Dave Cha-Pezzy is back, the one and only Dave Chappelle is back! Dave Chappelle (Half–Baked, The Chappelle Show) the comedy icon, makes his long awaited return to the screen and to the stage. The comedian now has a Netflix Original stand-up comedy special. With new, mature, raunchy, contemptuous, and always compelling comedy material.
On November 12, 2016, Dave Chappelle hosted season 42 episode six of the late-night live comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live. That episode is literally the best Saturday Night Live episode I’ve seen in a very long time, years actually. You had the controversy, the emotion, the comedy, the music, the special guest appearances, it was civil, and you had the comeback of Chappelle. For those who do not know this comedy legend, I’m going to tell you why he is a comedy icon, why he is one of the best. It is because he is raunchy, can feed off a crowd, he is very experienced in comedy, random, and it helps that he is really funny.
In 2003, Chappelle became more widely known with his comedy show, The Chappelle Show. The show continues to show re-run episodes all around the world, on various platforms to this day. Two years within The Chappelle Show, and Chappelle reaching the highest success in his comedy career, Chappelle walked away from the industry. In various interviews, he has stated “The show has ruined my life.” and”I hate working 20 hours a day.” He even walked away from a $50 million contract to come back to the show. Throughout the years, Chappelle was around, but kept on the down low. That was until he hosted Saturday Night Live on November 12, 2016. Now, Chappelle follows a line of comedians that have all gotten Netflix stand-up specials. Such as, Cedric The Entertainer, Mike Epps, Aziz Ansari, Jimmy Carr, Ali Wong, Patton Oswalt, and more.
A More Mature Dave Chappelle
Now if you are coming into this thinking you’re getting that Chappelle that says, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” Or him as Lil John, Prince, and as everyone’s favorite crack head Tyrone Biggums, you are not getting that. What you have here is a more mature Chappelle that has grown, and discusses more of his daily life. That’s right Dave Chappelle grew up. He discusses politics, sex, scandals, race issues, kids, the education system, marriage, and all that good stuff. The stand-up special is actually two parts. The first part is titled, The Age of Spin Live at The Hollywood Palladium. The second part is titled, Deep in the Heart of Texas: Dave Chappelle Live at Austin City Limits. Fans online have been debating which special is better. I believe they are both well done. However, I do believe the first special is better. I personally enjoyed The Age of Spin Live at The Hollywood Palladium more for a variety of reasons. It really does feel like he is talking to the audience, he hasn’t performed in L.A. in 10 years, it is more mature, it’s funny, and you truly do feel like he is happy to be back, and happy to have grown as a comedian. That doesn’t mean it is a perfect stand-up special, because in my opinion it is not. One of the biggest issues I have is the topics of current events.
I wish there were more recent news topics Chappelle discussed in his special. For example, he could have made jokes and or statements about Trump, Obama leaving office, movies, trends, television shows (like when he played Negan from Walking Dead on Saturday Night Live), social media, and the entertainment industry then vs. now. Talking about Bill Cosby and O.J. Simpson now feels just a little dated. Even though the jokes are funny, just more fresher topics could have been used. I appreciate him taking a serious topic and adding a light hearted and funny message behind it though.
The first special is…how can I put this? Stupid funny. He tells a joke about every time he has met O.J. and each one of them is hilarious, but really stupid. For instance, this isn’t a spoiler, but it involves Chappelle and O.J.’s wife. Chappelle reenacts when he met O.J.’s wife and he says, “Woman, are you tryin’ to get us both killed?” Furthermore, he literally opens the show telling the crowd, “You all better be a tough crowd, I’m going to say some stuff, so don’t get mad.” So if you are someone who is easily offended this is NOT for you. On the other hand, if you are someone who has thick skin and can take race jokes, sex jokes, and profanity then by all means ‘njoy.
Things May Be Bigger in Texas, But Are They As Funny?
The first detail I noticed about the second half of the special, Deep in the Heart of Texas: Dave Chappelle Live at Austin City Limits was the size of the crowd. I don’t know if it was the camera work, but the theater was packed beyond belief. Every chair had a butt, every chair from the front row all the way up to the cheap seats way on top. Even though the second half is good, I was a little let down by this one. For all those individuals who want the old Chappelle stand-up routine and not so much the matured version, then the second half is for you. What I mainly enjoyed about this half is Chappelle discussing more of his private life. For example, his young son getting into a fight with girl. Chappelle mentions how he took a bite out of his son’s school lunch, and then put it back in the bag so his son wouldn’t notice. His son thought it was a girl in the class, and it ended up with his son slapping a little girl. This isn’t the first father dilemma Chappelle discusses. Also, he discusses his marriage. He has been married since 2001, and he talks about/makes jokes about long marriages and relationships. I was cracking up laughing, when he mentions when his wife leaves the house he likes to get naked, jerk off and eat cereal in the living room. That’s what I mean when I say you are getting more of the old Chappelle on this second half of the stand-up special. In my opinion, this half had too many sex jokes and gay jokes. It started out funny, but then I was ready for him to move onto the next topic.
Overall, these are my final thoughts on Dave Chappelle’s stand-up Netflix Special. Netflix announced these aren’t the only two specials we are getting. There are more coming on the way towards the end of the year, and I say bring it on.
Chappelle is more than Rick James, bitch. He is funny, has improved, has matured, he is a comedy king, and like Comedy Central has stated, I do believe he is one of the greatest comedians of all time! I believe this earns…
4 out of 5 Hairpieces!