Dave Chappelle Returns With Jokes

Dave Chappelle speaks to students in Washington, D.C., in 2006. (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)
Dave Chappelle speaks to students in Washington, D.C., in 2006. (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Dave Chappelle officially returns to stand-up comedy next week at the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival in Austin, Texas, in a new 15-city tour presented by the Funny or Die website, the New York Times reports. And he's got jokes.

Mr. Chappelle didn’t just walk away from a $50 million contract [in 2005] and the acclaimed "Chappelle’s Show," whose second season on Comedy Central stacks up well against the finest years of "SCTV," "Saturday Night Live” and Monty Python. He did so dramatically, fleeing to Africa and explaining his exit in moral terms: "I want to make sure I’m dancing and not shuffling," he told Time magazine. Since then, he has been a remote star …


Since then, he's shunned the spotlight. He doesn’t have a website and quit Twitter after 11 tweets.

But Mr. Chappelle has tiptoed back into the public eye over the last year. While he has stayed away from movies and television, he still drops in pretty often on comedy clubs and occasionally theaters, usually in surprise appearances that generate more rumors of a comeback. Beyond the Oddball Festival, Chris Rock has said Mr. Chappelle may join him on his stand-up tour next year  …

Does he still have jokes?

Since seeing him perform at the start of the year, I have noticed an increased urgency in his comedy by the summer. A show I saw in San Francisco in March was charismatic if chaotic: freewheeling, improvisational and full of crowd work. But when I caught three of his shows in June down South, his act was very different: polished, thematically unified, less work in progress than test run.

His characteristic laid-back delivery and pinpoint timing were in service of jokes that were more dark, intricate and revelatory than his stand-up from a decade ago. Seeing Mr. Chappelle evolve onstage was a reminder that he didn’t leave comedy so much as return home to the live form he has practiced for a quarter-century. Mr. Chappelle might have left television, but that departure has become the wellspring of his comedy now. He only needs a microphone and a stage to lay claim to greatness.

Read more at the New York Times.