Dave Chappelle, in the first of five Seattle shows, pushed the boundaries of political correctness on Sunday. Though his material was no doubt offensive to some, it never felt mean-spirited.
Comedian Dave Chappelle delivered a refreshingly candid performance Sunday (March 13) at the Neptune Theatre, where he tackled easy targets like pop culture and politics along with more difficult subjects such as race, LGBTQ issues and Bill Cosby.
Sunday’s 7 p.m. show was the first of five in Seattle — two Sunday and two Monday at the Neptune and one scheduled for the Paramount Theatre March 21. Wearing a gray hoodie, jeans and sneakers and smoking throughout his set, Chappelle came across as calm and confident, demonstrating that he is back on top as a stand-up performer. His new material pushed the boundaries of what is politically correct, but still got big laughs.
An added bonus was that fans were required to secure their cellphones in bags locked by security. The room was quiet, too, as the bar was closed during the show.
The first hour of the 90-minute set featured longer, developed bits in which the 42-year-old comic discussed pop-culture subjects such as the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer,” about a man who was exonerated after spending 20 years in prison, but was convicted of another murder.
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“This guy Steven Avery is in more trouble than any white man has ever been,” Chappelle said. “If that show was about a black dude it’d be called ‘Duh?’”
Chappelle also discussed LGBTQ issues, in a way that suggested he was still struggling with feelings about them, specifically mentioning Caitlyn Jenner.
“Every time I see a ‘T’ (transgender person) I miss Bruce,” he said. “He was a superhero. He was beating Africans in track and field.”
Chappelle said that at first he didn’t want to believe the allegations about Cosby.
“It was like hearing that chocolate ice cream raped 54 people,” he quipped.
The last half-hour of Chappelle’s set was relaxed and informal. He spoke off the cuff, asking the audience questions and poking fun at Seattle. Wondering facetiously if there was any group he hadn’t offended yet, he speculated that if Donald Trump were to “freak out” and use a well-known racial slur in public, his approval ratings would go up.
He also joked about Seattle’s homeless people.
“I saw a homeless guy with a dog,” he said. “That’s just selfish. Can I just give money to the dog?”
Chappelle used language that is probably offensive to some, but his material never felt mean-spirited. His unfiltered comments had the crowd roaring the loudest throughout his audacious set.