The comedy game is cutthroat business and nobody knows that better than Dave Chappelle.
During a recent show in Hartford, Connecticut, the comedian walked off the stage after a rowdy, nearly all-white crowd welcomed him with a mixed reception of both boos and cheers. Ten minutes into his set, the former “Chappelle Show” star decided to sit on a stool and smoke a cigarette instead of continuing his routine.
“You’re booing yourself. I want you to go home and look in the mirror and say ‘boo,’ that’s how I feel about you.” he said to the hecklers in the audience. “I f**ked up when I left my show, you know why? ‘Cause my show only has to be 22 minutes of television. I could’ve went on television, I could’ve read the phone book for 22 minutes and I would’ve got $50 million dollars.”
“I shoulda done that sh*t but my ego wouldn’t let me. Tonight is different,” he continued. “Tonight my contract says 25 minutes and I have three minutes left and when my three minutes is up, my ass is gone.”
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Here’s how Ebony magazine’s Lesli-Ann Lewis described the situation:
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.
The crowd got worse. People were booing, jeering. I heard a woman yell something that was drowned out by a guy near me screaming “DAVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEE” for the umpteenth time. But Dave hears her.
“Times like this, I wonder where Katt Williams is” He sips his water and stares at us meaningfully. There is a hush. The jeers begin again. When he decided he would not be doing the show, he responded to a voice in the crowd: “I’m going to have to read about this sh*t for months.”
Lewis concluded, “Chappelle wasn’t having a meltdown. This was a Black artist shrugging the weight of White consumption, deciding when enough was enough. This isn’t the first time Chappelle has done so and it isn’t the first time his behavior has been characterized as a meltdown.”
Watch a clip from the performance below and tell us your thoughts in the comment section.
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