Comedian Dave Chappelle walked on stage at the Moore Theatre Tuesday night to a thunderous roar and a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd — the kind of reaction a performer dreams about getting at the end of a set.
The Emmy-nominated comedian, who’s in the midst of remaking his career after walking away from a wildly successful show on Comedy Central, acknowledged the crowd, took a long drag from a cigarette and started the show by poking fun at Seattle.
“I’ve been here for three hours and for the last 90 minutes I wanted to kill myself. It’s raining, it’s sunny, it’s raining,” Chappelle said.
Over the course of Chappelle’s hour and twenty minute set the comedian touched on topics like race, class and the perverse genius of Lil Wayne’s rhyming style. But throughout the performance Chappelle was clearly in command of the crowd, which at times sat completely rapt.
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Audiences haven’t always been so accommodating for Chappelle. In September an unruly audience in Hartford, Conn., heckled him to the point that he gave up his act shortly after beginning the show.
“The Hartford crowd was full of 30,000 ‘[mother-effers]’ in cotton khakis,” Chappelle fumed.
Chappelle also spoke about his departure from his Comedy Central TV show.
“The American way is to never give up, but us Chappelles, we like to quit now and then.” He also said that it was never about the money and that the $50 million dollars he was offered was a lie, at which point someone in the audience yelled “How much was it?”
Without missing a beat Chappelle answered, “It was more like 80 or 90.”
Chappelle closed his set with a lengthy story about being a rich, successful comedian in New York City and still not being able to hail a cab.
It was then that Chappelle showed what a gifted storyteller and performer he is. The context of his experience was funny, but the subtlety of it dealt with prejudice and privilege.
The yarn got big laughs, but the larger message was clear — there’s more to Chappelle than just jokes and catchphrases.
Jeff Albertson: 206-464-2304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.