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stream of consciousness on Dave Chappelle

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Apr. 24th, 2009 | 02:09 pm
music: Big Daddy Kane - Ain't No Half Steppin'

-- I saw Chappelle perform last night and he was absolutely amazing... a verbal Mozart of our time.
-- The show started around 11:30 pm and was over by 3:30 am... and that's considered a short set for his late night shows in SF. He comes here often to try out new material and also it felt to just hang out with the audience
-- the venue was the Punchline in the Financial district, my first time there, a super intimate venue, about the size of two large living rooms. There was no line or anything to get in, each person had to show ID and sign their tickets upon collection at will call... thus eliminating scalper scum.
-- I tried getting another ticket to take someone with me, but by the time I went to purchase, it was too late and could only get one out of the system... it was fine though, was nice to just focus 100% on the show and get into it
-- There was no opener, he just walked right up on stage after entering through a side door and jumped into it with the audience
-- This was unlike any other stand up I've seen in that it's a totally collaborative affair... he said at the beginning, "Just got finished doing a show, but don't worry, you're the late show, so yours will be longer and I have other stuff to say... each show is like a snowflake :)"
-- There was a talkative Filipino woman in the audience and they had a good bit of banter to start things off as Dave's wife is also from the Philippines. She was very loud and had a lot to say, which led Dave to declare her "the most gangsta Asian woman I have ever met" (it also helped that she was wearing a Biggie t-shirt)
-- In general, the audience was incredibly diverse, I'm pretty sure every major ethnicity group had a representative in the audience. I love this kind of atmosphere.
-- I forgot to mention there was a DJ off to the side of the stage on the same level as the audience who was playing some 80s hip-hop classics before the show... turns out, it was Fuse, 2pac's old DJ.
-- Before the show, I predicted Dave would talk about Obama, gay marriage, terrorism, Somali Pirates, and of course, he touched on all of these. He'd also take any random topic from the audience and riff off that at will
-- During one bit, he talked about how extensively he's traveled the world and asked if anyone had a foreign background... I shouted out "Iran" and Dave and I had a funny back n' forth about the insanity of President Ahmadinejad. He asked me a few times to help him pronounce the name which was pretty fun and put me on the spot... I don't think he got any better at saying the name though.
-- When I shouted Iran, there was an attractive woman sitting behind me that said under her breath, "He's not even Persian" which was weird. I turned around to get a look at her after Dave moved on to another country, and sure enough, she was Persian and didn't believe that I was. After speaking a sentence of Farsi to her, she seemed to look shocked... her thuggish looking boyfriend is apparently some club owner that Dave frequents when he's in town and he seemed weary of me making too much of a connection with his Persian trophy. Now back to the show...
-- I won't go into all of the jokes since there was 4 hours worth, but one particular highlight toward the end was him just talking about music for an hour, while DJ Fuse would play him songs at random. It was really hard to tell how much of this part of the show was staged, but it sure did feel spontaneous. Fuse would play a mixture of hip-hop classics, with some weird songs mixed in ("Smells like Teen Spirit"... which he said was the first song that got black people to understand white music, the Benny Hill theme, Journey, Michael Jackson, etc...)
-- One thing is clear with Dave, he has a deep connection with music. Any time a hip-hop song came on like Rakim, old Jay Z, Big Daddy Kane, etc he would get this look of intense focus and would recite every rhyme word for word. It's clear that he views the 80/early-to-mid 90s period of hip-hop as the holy grail and thinks of the music as serious poetry. I don't think I've felt so compelled to go back and listen to hip-hop as much as I did seeing Dave's passion for it last night. Half the audience knew all the words too and there was lots of rapping and singing along going on.
-- Dave had lots of stories about hanging out with rappers and had a particularly great one about Kanye. He said that he liked Kanye a lot and didn't think his boastfulness was all that bad. He made lots of comparisons to himself and Rocky... basically saying that this kind of zeal and passion was a key to being a fierce competitor. He defanged Kanye quickly though by recounting the story of when he first appeared on Dave's show. He was so excited to be there hanging out behind the scenes that when he received a phone call from a friend, Kanye had to declare "My life is so dope right now! Bye!"... basically showing that Kanye couldn't believe what was happening around him at that time (apparently he was a bit nervous during the taping of the show too).
-- Someone in the audience asked Dave about his favorite TV show and he said old Heroes as far as modern TV, but got some boos and somehow ended up on the topic of VH1 shows. Dave got pretty serious during this part as VH1 has made a name for itself by employing D-list comics to essentially make fun of celebrities that actually have success and talent. This struck a chord with him and he made it clear that he hates this kind of tear-people down culture, especially when he sees his peers doing it.
-- Dave is super self aware... he picked up on the fact that he was getting angry and made the observation about how the world is going to shit, but he's up there being angry about VH1. His brain moves so fast, it's incredible to see him making transitions and connections between topics.
-- I've always loved the ability of comics to be one of the few people in the world that can actually tell things like they are, without sugar coating them. Dave said several crass things about women (and men's attitudes toward them), but had to check himself and apologize many times, especially now after being a father of 3 and including his first girl as of 2 weeks ago. He's obviously had his fair share of the ladies and strip club adventures and feels like he needs to atone for the past now that he has a daughter. He plays around with that boundary of having sexual desires and grappling with them being in a committed relationship. There was lots of flirting going on between him and women in the audience (and in particular, the hot owner of the club) and none of the women seemed to mind the attention. It's weird... if it was any "normal" guy doing or saying the things he was, it'd be totally off, but since it's Dave, it just seemed part of his world and reality.
-- While the show was certainly funny (my throat hurt I was laughing so much), there were definitely some weird, tense, and darker moments in the show. Dave has the air of someone who's been through a lot and thinks a lot about what's going on around the world. He doesn't strike me as religious and one gets the sense that he knows we're all going to die and with no afterlife and there's a sense of futility in it all. He has a "what does it all matter anyway" vibe throughout his comedy that I really enjoy. This came to the surface most when talking about the circumstances and fallout from walking away from Comedy Central's 50 million dollar deal to continue his show. He seems proud that he maintained his integrity, but says he also has a huge hole in his heart that only $40 million dollars or more can fill :) Of course this comes across as funny, but it's hard to tell how serious Dave is when talking about his decision to walk away. He acknowledges that his career isn't going that well at the moment (although, you'd never tell by the love that he has in the Bay Area... he just added some more shows for tonight and Oakland on Saturday... which he's reluctant to perform in... he's very danger averse).
-- He expounded more on this topic of the hole in his heart and this was my favorite part of the show. He says the real hole for him isn't the money, it's fame. He clearly misses being in the spotlight and feels resentment when watching TV and seeing people not even a fraction as funny as him getting attention (e.g. Carlos Mencia). Apparently he wrote Chappelle show with one other person while Carlos has a team of writers and still manages to suck ass. Back to the hole... he said while fame was his hole, for some it's reality tv, for some drugs, others women, video games, religion, etc. We all have this hole and find some way to fill it, but it's this void that makes us human. I couldn't help but relate this to my own life and it made for a bit of weird self-realization while sitting in a comedy club of all places, but this is why I love Dave... like other great comics, he doesn't need to just provide yucks all the time. One wonders how much of this is therapy for Dave... it's clear he thrives on connecting with the audience and I'm sure getting paid doesn't hurt either.
-- Other interesting things that came out... apparently he invited the prior night's show to play basketball with him and a few people took him up on it and apparently two of the guys were semi-pro and kicked his ass. He's also been doing stand up since he was 14! He has no "before I did comedy job stories" because he's had no other jobs... comedy has been his entire life. "8th grade" was his job before comedy. At age 35, he seems way more mature for his age and this definitely gave me a kick in the ass to get going on my own personal goals seeing that we're only 4 years apart.
-- The end of the show just sort of faded out... the audience ran out of topics and questions, Dave was slowing down with the stories, so he just declared us a good night and that was it. I felt like the whole room wanted to give him a hug... he held our attention solely with spoken words for 4 hours, something I don't think I've ever experienced before in my life... (and thank god for the no cell phone policy).

If you ever get the chance to see Dave, I don't have to tell you twice... definitely go and see a master at work!

update: I stand corrected, Dave's a Muslim. I must've been reading my own stuff in there somehow.
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Comments {12}

(no subject)

from: jizosh
date: Apr. 24th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Awesome review, man. Thanks for taking the time.

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Agape Theon

(no subject)

from: glitterus
date: Apr. 24th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
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The fact you exist makes me happy.

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Agape Theon

(no subject)

from: glitterus
date: Apr. 24th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
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In fact happy unbirthday!

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ario

(no subject)

from: interimlover
date: Apr. 25th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Hahah, thanks, this could be the new "hope you're having a good day"

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pickles

(no subject)

from: amphitrite8
date: Apr. 25th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
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i have always admired the time and thought you put into your journal entries, it's like it's a real journal. anyway, excellent review. i am very happy to have you on my friends list sir! and i miss seeing you around.

:)

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ario

(no subject)

from: interimlover
date: Apr. 25th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the kind words... I know I don't post much any more, but it's nice to get feedback when I do.

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i'm the undisputed king of this disco

(no subject)

from: erik
date: Apr. 25th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
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I had no idea he did anything like this. What a great atmosphere to see him perform in. I have both of his published stand-up DVDs, all the episodes of Chappelle Show, and loved both of his appearances on Inside the Actors Studio. Not sure if he'll still be in SF when I'm there late next week, but let me know. Even if you're not up to go again, maybe I can convince some other friends to.

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ario

(no subject)

from: interimlover
date: Apr. 25th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
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i think he's only here till Saturday unfortunately :(

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the hero of gregminster

(no subject)

from: finkeljautobahn
date: Apr. 25th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
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great entry!

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Brodie Kelly

(no subject)

from: purgatorius
date: Apr. 26th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
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This was a great entry, I'd love to keep reading it but it ended.

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Hairu

from: anonymous
date: Apr. 28th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
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Great review. I saw him Monday night at the Punchline and you pretty much summed it up. Did he talk about doing the "Superman" to his wife? Now that was hilarious!

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ario

Re: Hairu

from: interimlover
date: Apr. 28th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
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yup, also hilarious!

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