Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chappelle talks about his future, time traveling at Little Rock gig

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Dave Chappelle image

"Come back, Dave!" someone hollered last night to comedian Dave Chappelle, who's spent much of the last seven years not telling jokes in public. "I kind of am back," he said to the near-capacity audience at Robinson Center Music Hall, the night after playing to a sold out show at the Orpheum theater in Memphis, his first ticketed theater gigs in years. "Tonight I'm back."

Back because he wanted to road test some material before launching a new tour? Back because he was going stir crazy on his ranch in Ohio? Back to gear up for a new version of "Chappelle's Show," the massively popular skit show he quit abruptly in 2005? Your guess is as good as mine. But don't look for material from his Little Rock show on an HBO special anytime soon.

"Honesty" would be the theme of the night, he told us soon after taking the stage around 8:40 p.m., after two openers and a long intermission. That turned out to be a lie. There wasn't a theme. Or many jokes to speak of. After the first 20 minutes or so — and possibly for the entire show — the lanky (but now chiseled) comedian was clearly winging it. He riffed on rap lyrics too filthy to print even in this smut-slinging rag (turns out Dave Chappelle, intoning the lyrics to "Rack City" in the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr., is comedy gold). He explained his absence from public life away by saying he'd been traveling: across the country, including a stop at the Central High Museum, on his motorcycle; to China, and across time. Riffs started strong ("I was in China to pitch a TV show...I was confident it would work. It was called 'The Cosby Show' "), but often died on the vine. He still got laughs. He paused often, less like he was trying to gather himself than like he was trying to figure out a problem. He filled those pregnant pauses by chain smoking. He sighed.

In at least one recent show, Chappelle hasn't handled hecklers well. Before the Little Rock show, the DJ asked the crowd not to heckle. But there was too much dead space. So much that it was surely by design. Maybe Chappelle is coming back, and he's trying to steel himself for a comeback tour.

But while the crowd not surprisingly yelled out a lot of stupid things — "Free Bird!", "pancakes!", "diarrhea!" — it also set-up the best moments of the night. Like when someone yelled out, "I'm you, Dave!"

"You mean spiritually, or literally?" Chappelle asked.

"Everyone tells me I look you!"

So Chappelle asked the guy, Joe, to come onstage, and sure enough, he could probably fool people as one of those celebrity impersonators. Which led into perhaps his funniest riff of the night, something too dirty and too reliant on timing and Chappelle's voice to ever convey here.

Later, someone else yelled out, "Tell my cousin I said hello."

"Who's your cousin?" Chappelle asked.

"Maya Angelou."

"Maya Angelou is not your cousin," Chappelle said, continuing as the woman protested. "You tell my cousin I said hello. His name is Frederick Douglass. He's one of my time traveling buddies. Last time I seen Frederick Douglass he was in Denver, he had a high-top fade."

After a long pause, he asked. "You promise me Maya Angelou is your cousin?"

But the woman was gone.

"She left?" Chappelle asked incredulously. "She might've been telling the truth. That made me real paranoid." Which led into an unprintably hilarious riff about Maya Angelou calling to scold him.

Later, someone asked Chappelle to follow him on Twitter. His Twitter handle was Wizkidkilla. Chappelle did a dramatic reading of the recent tweets of Wizkidkilla while world-famous harmonica player Fred Yonnet played a blues number. During one pregnant pause, a few people started to call the Hogs, immediately drawing jeers from the crowd. But Chappelle heard it, and said, "Ladies and gentleman, I've done a million shows in my life. I've never heard a crowd make that noise before." Which inspired him to film the crowd and himself ("that way we can get more hits") on his phone for YouTube ("I'm back, baby. I'm going to be a YouTube star."). Not since I was on a fifth grade school trip to New York and someone started to call the Hogs in the Statue of Liberty have I felt more ashamed and compelled to participate at the same time.

The show meandered. Because of all of his time traveling, Chappelle said he can't gauge time as it happens. Late in the set, he said he was working on a big show for the London Olympics. He said he might time travel to do "Half Baked" over. He said, "Honestly, really, I need you guys." He said he'd be in the streets of Little Rock, but maybe as his avatar, Joe. He said, "Everything I say is the truth. And that is a lie. And that is the truth! These types of paradoxes are what keep us fastened to the present. If not for them, we'd all be time traveling."

This post has been updated with information about Frederic Yonnett, the French harmonica player, famous for his collaborations with Prince, Stevie Wonder and dozens of others, who I did not recognize in the least.

Tags: , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The Kickback Edition

    On the podcast: the federal investigation into kickbacks involving state legislators and the General Assembly, which convened this week before taking a long weekend to celebrate R.E. Lee and MLK Jr. Day.
    • Jan 13, 2017
  • The 91st Arkansas General Assembly: It's going to be a beast

    Some legislation to look for, and how to speak your mind.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Marijuana commission sets cultivation fee at $100,000

    The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission has decided  to set license fee (and annual renewal) for cultivation facilities at $100,000, Benji Hardy reports. The move was billed as a compromise, after commissioner Travis Story pushed for setting it at $185,000 and Carlos Ramon proposed $15,000.
    • Jan 3, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Staff Picks: Netflix and Chill, Benji's pasta fresca, Creedence Clearwater Revival and more

    The podcast Design Matters, published by Design Observer, is celebrating its 10th year and they are revisiting some of their best episodes from the last decade. I just finished this week's replay of the interview with the Scottish born illustrator Marion Deuchars. At the end of the wonderful interview, her two young sons are invited into the studio near where they pitch in some of their own thoughts on art and, in particular, drawing in the art books their mother created for children and adults.
    • Aug 28, 2015
  • Guest Mix: Rural War Room

    World wide weird duo Rural War Room (Donavan Suitt & Byron Werner) is celebrating 10 years of broadcasting and production here in Little Rock and abroad. RWR Radio on KABF 88.3 FM (10 p.m. Tuesdays or anytime on their website), features the duo alternating records in an effort to surprise one another.
    • Sep 14, 2015
  • Your new flags of Little Rock

    BRASHER: Hello Arkansans, this is the first piece from us, Brasher and Rowe and we are some dudes who work in downtown Little Rock and we eat lunch and just talk about all the exciting things around here.
    • Sep 18, 2015

Most Shared

  • UPDATE: Retired Arkansas Arts Center director Townsend Wolfe dies at 81

    Townsend Durant Wolfe, III, retired director and chief curator of the Arkansas Arts Center, has died at 81.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Pork and more

    Some notes on disparate topics before I take a vacation break.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation