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Oldies But Goldies: Dave Chappelle AT Radio City Music Hall In 2014


He’s back

As Mos Def, the surprise guest Friday night at the final concert of comedian Dave Chappelle’s Radio City Music Hall residency, once noted, it’s simple mathematics, check it out.

$100 for a nosebleed seat.

70 minute set,

$14 a minute.

More numbers?

10 nights sold out.

Thank you, 60,000 times.

One more?

Ten… the number of years between the last time Chappelle played New York and this one.

I am not a big Chappelle fan, not crazy about the TV show, thought he was a putz for leaving the business and his reason asinine. And I don’t really really buy him. I am filled with doubt. Put it this way: I wrote this could be Pryor On Sunset Strip but I didn’t believe it for a second and I blew the show off on Sunday because I don’t like Sundays and left it till 5pm on the last night of the residency to get a ticket (my friend David Miller convinced me) although if I’d been aware Yasiin Bey (Mos Def to you, buster) was performing I would have not been so indecisive.

Whatever Chappelle was, he ain’t anymore. Like many a 40 year old man before him, he has embraced his own sense of self, of age, of stand up, of reality. Chain smoking Mores (Mores? If you’re gonna get lung cancer, smoke Marlboro Reds mixed with Gauloise) and looking very sharp in a gray suit and tie, he is an excellent and very funny man. Chapelle, who once claimed he quit his show because a white man was laughing at a “jiggaboo” skit during taping, seems to have realized how completely lame the entire concept is. Friday night, the best moments of the evening were exactly where you would assume they wouldn’t be: racial profiling. He puts the “n” word in proper perspective, imagining his complete indifference if he was served by KKK members at Kentucky Fried Chicken with his indignation solely based upon a hey, doesn’t a free biscuit come with that? Black people aren’t as angry as they were, he noted, everybody else is instead; one more step and he would be where I am -assuming Political Correctness is a hide in plain sight to excuse bigotry of incredible proportions where it matters most. I don’t know about Chappelle but really, with one in every four black men being jailed in their life time, calm yourselves over “nigga wha’…”.

An opening piece about the news was funny, Chinese folks crying is all we saw of the missing Malaysian Airplane amusing, American women’s response to the kidnapping of 200 girls by making a twitter account was funnier, and his take on the LA Clippers funnier still. But by the end a very strange bit about getting hit by a snowball, which upset Chapelle so much he chased down the white 20 year olds in the car, confronted them while his sister got their licence plate and went to the police, was the sort of overreaction we are getting used to. Did they throw the snowball because Dave is black? Because his sister who was with was wearing a Burka? What would he have done if they were black kids? Isn’t that reverse discrimination? Why? How about because 20 year old retards in a car throw snowballs? Geez, Chappelle, calm yourself.

He is even worse about his family. Not only is Bill Cosby substantially funnier about children but so is Louis CK.

Chappelle walked right off after 70 minutes, back to his ordinary life in Ohio, and Mos… Yasiin Bey came out (he had been in “Block Party”as well) and started with some reggaeton (in effect at least) before performing some wild style greatest hits. He was terrific. Every time I’ve wanted to see Yasiin over the past five years he’s cancelled like he is Morrissey or something, and once he got to the hits with just another rapper and two turntables and a microphone he was excellent. Losing the Jamaican vibes, the man remains one of our top rappers.

Meanwhile, this stint put Dave back near the top. There may be four or five better stand up comedians (Louis CK, Chris Rock, Eddie Izzard, Ricky Gervais -that’s about it, if I wanted to go to 5 I’d add Chris Titus) and he is cooler than all of them. Dave doesn’t really get angry, he gets bemused. He has a perpetual quizzical expression that is perhaps the only response to racial politics and personal politics left. He was fine, but he wasn’t Richard Pryor on Sunset Strip.

Grade: B+

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