¡Viva la Chappelle!


The internet public has been treating Dave Chappelle’s comeback with little more than common disdain, which I, personally, find to be unbelievable.

Dave Chappelle – the legendary stand-up and sketch artist, creator of one of the best sketch comedy shows on television within the last decade – has returned to comedy with very little fanfare, other than a rash of negative press regarding a recent performance in Hartford, CT. During the alleged “incident,” Chappelle fired back at a few hecklers with some comments about the city and its people, which the media deemed as offensive. From what I can gather, the comments were incendiary because they were a) racial in nature, and b) made fun of Hartford. What made the situation even worse is that people with smartphones were able to capture the outburst on video, and post it on the internet with accompanying captions like, “CHAPPELLE BLASTS HARTFORD AND WHITE PEOPLE!,” thereby de-contextualizing the material, and portraying Chappelle as a villain. What these videos don’t show is that Chappelle was simply dealing with a heckler, the ultimate form of disrespect to a stand-up comedian, in the most constructive way possible: by channelling his annoyance into jokes. Yes, the bits were anti-Hartford, and could potentially be seen as anti-white, but either way, anyone with a reasonable sense of humor can admit – they were pretty funny, and kind of on-point, as is the norm with Chappelle’s humor. One of the reasons why “Chappelle’s Show” was so popular to begin with is that Chappelle created a safe space for people to laugh about touchy subjects, most specifically race; since he targeted all groups equally, everyone could appreciate the jokes without feeling too offended, or alternatively, too much like a racist. Admitting that you like “Chappelle’s Show” is merely an implication that you have good taste in comedy; not that you harbor prejudices against any particular ethnic group.

Now, Chappelle is back on the scene after what feels like a very long and very mysterious absence, which was predicated by an enormous rise to success, punctuated by everyone, from frat boys to school principles, shouting, “I’m Rick James, bitch!”

Granted, this isn’t even Chappelle’s best sketch. But my lord, it’s a good one.

From now on, I ask that we move on from this heckling incident in order to give Dave the proper welcome back to comedy that he deserves and surely expects.

Let’s take a moment to re-educate ourselves on Chappelle’s greatness by looking at some of his top-quality bits from years past.

1) Trading Spouses

This sketch features one of my favorite Chappelle characters, Leonard Washington. Also, “T-Mart” = best name for a child ever conceived of.

2) The Three Daves

This sketch is relatable on so many levels.

3) Nelson Mandela’s Bootcamp

According to Chappelle, this sketch was considered to be a failure, although I have to disagree. So funny, so bizarre.

4) RocaPads

Chappelle is a master satirist of rap and hip hop, particularly the commercial culture that surrounds it. This one features a young Rashida Jones as a bonus.

5)  “Grape Drink”

Classic Chappelle stand-up. Watch how effortlessly he kills it.

In conclusion: forget about Hartford, people! Welcome back, Dave! We missed you!