By Eric Kiska
Dave Chappelle, famed comedian, returned Sunday to Detroit for the first time since 2006 and came out to a lively crowd at the Fillmore. When the surprise show went on sale Thursday through Live Nation, it sold out within 6 hours. The show was something nobody expected, before he came on stage and after he left.
If you’ve been a Chappelle fan since “Chappelle’s Show” (Comedy Central show from 2003-2006), then you got to see a part of him that you would not have been able to see otherwise, as it was more of a personal show. If you were not well versed in his comedy and bought a ticket just to see “that guy who made Chappelle’s Show,” then you were probably wondering what was going on most of the time.
Half of the show was more of a question and answer between hecklers in the crowd and a chain-smoking Chappelle. “This feels like a town hall meeting,” Chappelle admitted. Most of the time he used them as fuel to fire the act.
A big bold sign when you enter the Fillmore said, “No cell phones, texting, tweeting, talking, cameras, recording devices of any kind during the show. Violators will be ejected,” although the security was rather relaxed.
At one point a man in the front row was about to get kicked out for taking a picture with his camera, and Chappelle humored him by asking for his camera and then taking a picture on stage with the fan in the background.
He interacted with the fans even further by asking the crowd what to do in Detroit. After a minute of fans yelling out random bars, one fan from the lower balcony got his attention for over two minutes while naming places Chappelle could visit.
“He’s a very well rounded person; in this two minute barrage of heckling he’s invited me to a museum, a jazz club, and a titty bar,” he said after the fan was finally quiet.
Chappelle admitted he did not bring much material for his 2 ½ hour show. To make up for it he touched on a few personal issues such as leaving “Chappelle’s Show,” and what it’s like to be in the “celebrity afterlife.”
When Chappelle mentioned making a comeback, the sold-out crowd immediately went into an uproarious applause. “Don’t quit your show, life is a lot harder without a show,” he said on more of a somber note, but reassured the crowd he did not regret leaving.
The moments of sheer brilliance came when he brought out the subjects that are in his usual repertoire: race, politics, and sexuality in today’s culture.
“A lot of people said, ‘you only voted for Barack because he’s black.’ Of course, I vote for black people on game shows.” It was moments like this that reminded fans of how he was one of the top comedy acts out there before he quit his show.
It will be interesting to see what he does next as he has three shows planned in Toronto, and it seems he’s finally getting back into the groove of comedy. One thing is for sure: people have not forgotten about him, and he will continue to sell out venues wherever he goes.