Writing at Ebony, Lesli-Ann Lewis, who attended Dave Chappelle’s controversial recent return to the stage in Connecticut, writes that the comedian did not have a meltdown and argues that the problem was with the audience.
The Oddball “Funny or Die” tour was supposed to be Chappelle’s big return to stand up (again). Shorty after taking the stage — to our massive applause — someone in the front interrupted to ask if he was back for real this time. He answered “Yes.” We all cheered.
He had started with some Paula Deen jokes that went over well when he had to stop again. Maybe it was his gratuitous use of the N-word to a mostly White audience. Maybe it was the overpriced beer that, to my amazement, everyone seemed to keep buying. Whatever it was, there was a palpable change. The crowd got rowdier, louder, ruder. Folks started calling out random references to his past work (he informed us that if we ever see him in a Half Baked sequel, that means he’s run completely out of money) and, most bizarrely, his 2006 Oprah interview.
After engaging some of the heckling politely, Chappelle had enough. “I’ve been up here a while now and I thought it was me but now I’m sure it’s you. There is definitely something wrong with you[,]” he told us. In other words, ‘shut up and let me perform.’ Not many did. Finally, he gave up and took his cigarettes and his water and sat on stage.
Read Lesli-Ann Lewis’ entire piece at Ebony.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.