Dave Chappelle returns to the stage in new Netflix specials
The comedian plays catch-up after decade-long hiatus
Title: “The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at The Hollywood Palladium”
Release Date: March 21
Dave Chappelle stunned the world when he walked away from a $50 million contract with Comedy Central. More than 10 years later, he made one of his first public appearances as the host of SNL and signed a $60 million contract with Netflix.
Chappelle is best known for his hit show “Chappelle’s Show” on Comedy Central, which lasted only two seasons before he walked away from it all.
His typical easy-going body language and exaggerated voice impressions makes the audience feel like they’re back in 1998.
The opening of the new special has a retro-MTV feel as Morgan Freeman narrates Chappelle’s introduction. Color-splattered animations and quick clips of pop-culture references like the O.J. Simpson car chase and phrases like “Pray for Kanye” flash on the screen.
He swaggers on stage in a cloud of smoke as the audience greets him with screams of excitement.
“I know I’ve been gone a very long time,” Chappelle said to the crowd.
After over a decade of avoiding the lime light, Chappelle gives his own take on what he’s missed. The comedian describes what he’s been up to for the last 10 years but claims he is not ready to join “Dancing with the Stars” just yet.
Chappelle focused on current social events from the past few years, giving the audience his opinion in the form of well-timed, blunt punch lines. He talked about how difficult it was to admit that Bill Cosby, someone he had once looked up to, had allegedly raped 54 people. At first, he couldn’t believe it.
“Imagine if you found out that 40 years from now, Kevin Hart raped 54 people,” Chappelle said.
Though Chappelle has been out of the spotlight himself, he’s kept up with the work of other comedians and has respect for what they’ve done in his absence.
Chappelle described how surprised he was when his own 12-year-old son wanted tickets to go see one of Hart’s shows. Chappelle tells the story of how he and his son went to Hart’s show and was shocked to find out tickets were $125 a piece when his are only $80.
“The crowd goes f***ing nuts. Thousands of people. I was furious. The longer the show went on the madder I got,” Chappelle said.
Chappelle joked that after the show, his son embarrassed him when they went to meet Hart in person. Hart gave Chappelle’s son a jersey with “K Hart” stitched on the back and told him to wear it whenever his dad made him mad.
Chappelle took a walk down memory lane when he told the audience about each of the three times he’s met O.J. Simpson. The first time was before the football star allegedly killed his wife, whom Chappelle described as “soon-to-be-slain.”
In his prime, Chappelle never shied away from joking about social issues like race or sexuality and the same can still be said about his new specials. The aged comedian comes to grips with Caitlyn Jenner’s transition and transgender rights.
“Whenever I see [a transgender person] on the street, I don’t mind them, but I’ll be like, ‘man I miss Bruce,’” Chappelle said.
Chappelle joked about being jealous of “transgender people beating black people in the discrimination Olympics.”
Chappelle said there would be a war in L.A. if the police shot half as many transgender people as they did black people in the last year. The comedian seemed unaware that transgender people, specifically transgender people of color, are one of demographics who experience the most violence in America.
Chappelle also weighed in on same-sex marriage. He talked about how even though the same-sex marriage law was passed, it will take time for the gay community to be accepted. Chappelle joked that Brown v. Board of Education was in 1955 and people still call him the n-word.
While Chappelle kept in touch with social progress, he took time to joke about his experience working in comedy again.
Chappelle describes a TMZ article that claimed he was drunk at a Detroit performance and booed off stage. The comedian held nothing back and was very open about his recreational drug use.
“I wasn’t drunk. I had smoked some reefer with some rappers,” Chappelle said.
With a cockiness unusual for someone who has been gone from the public eye for over 10 years, Chappelle said he refused to leave the stage after the crowd booed him.
Chappelle exits the stage with a mic drop as the music plays. The crowd goes wild for a standing ovation. It isn’t until after he gives the crowd a bow and salute when he runs back on stage.
“Wait, I forgot. The fourth time I met O.J. Simpson….”
Molly Dietz is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org