Dave Chappelle returns to stage after a decade's hiatus

Dave Chappelle: Out Of The Darkness, Back Into The Spotlight For ‘Chappelle’s Show’ Comedian

Chappelle’s Show fans across North America have cause for celebration — comedian Dave Chappelle is returning to the stage for a spate of shows in Canada and the U.S.A. before the month is out. Starting on Sunday, January 31, Chappelle will appear at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee for eight shows over four consecutive evenings, following up with five early-February shows in Toronto.

New opportunities to see Dave in his comedic element are music to his followers’ ears. Tickets to Chappelle’s appearances at the Pabst Theatre in 2014 sold out instantly, as did his 2012 shows at The Winter Garden in New York City. The excitement is palpable. News outlets across America are taking to Twitter to spread the word on Comedy Central’s returning king, whose deliberate disappearance from the prying public eye is as much part of his unique profile as his controversial brand of humor.

Fans who missed out on tickets to Chappelle’s few-and-far-between performances in recent years, compelled by Fear Of Missing Out — which came to devastating fruition when Drake appeared as guest DJ as Dave last played in Toronto in 2012, as reported by CBC Music — already trawl the Internet for second-hand tickets at premium prices. The speed at which Ticketmaster’s stocks sold out have been met with widespread anger and discontent, with many airing grievances on Dave Chappelle event pages on Facebook.

Born David Khari Webber Chappelle, the 42-year-old Washington native’s career began in the early nineties, when he moved to New York City to pursue life as a comedian. Dave traversed the comedy circuit through appearances in various films and television shows, such as Robin Hood: Men In Tights and Getting In, going on to perform as the opening act for Aretha Franklin at age 19. By the end of the nineties, Dave Chappelle was a household name, having gained notoriety for appearances in high-grossing films such as The Nutty Professor and co-writing and starring in cult stoner-culture film Half Baked.

Chappelle’s comedic profile was, and still is, perhaps most intimately acquainted with controversy arising from his trademark socio-cultural commentary on racial stereotypes, popular culture and politics — particularly those politics of America’s booming film and television industries. Dave was known for frequently satirizing various television networks for their, in his view, elitist and racially exclusive cultures.

Dave Chappelle speaks about 'Chappelle's Show' to TCA Press while on tour in 2004. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Dave Chappelle speaks about ‘Chappelle’s Show’ to TCA Press while on tour in 2004. [Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]
It was after the debut of his own sketch and stand-up show, Chappelle’s Show, which ran for two seasons during 2003 and 2004, that life began to change dramatically for Dave Chappelle. The meteoric rise of Chappelle’s Show to popularity posed problematic new challenges for the comedian: Dave’s preferred comedic form, his stand-up appearances, were outshone by the show’s sketches, such as fan-favorite Rick James in which Chappelle impersonates the American R&B artist. Chappelle’s frustrations came to a head during a stand-up appearance in Sacramento, California in 2004, when, overwhelmed by the crowd’s frequent outcries of the catchphrase from Dave’s Rick James sketch, he exited the stage, returning only to assert that the show was ‘ruining his life’ to the discredit of attendees.

Chappelle’s dissatisfaction with the direction his career had taken led him to refuse a $50 million deal for a third season of Chappelle’s Show with Comedy Central, generating both negative publicity from network stakeholders and fascinated curiosity in his fans from his words and actions in the following months of 2005. In one of his infrequent public appearances thereafter, on the Oprah Winfrey Show in May 2005, Dave explained some of the factors that influenced his drastic flip in comedic persona with specific reference to a sketch he found, and still finds, particularly disturbing, in which Chappelle appeared in black face as a pixie.

“[The skit] was a visual personification of the n-word… That concerned me,” said Chappelle during the interview. “I don’t want black people to be disappointed in me for putting that [message] out there… It’s a complete moral dilemma.”

These aspects of Dave’s experience during stand-up appearances catalyzed a lengthy hiatus from the comedy industry and public eye in general; Chappelle did not reappear until 2012, when his shows carried with them strict warnings for patron behavior, as expressed by Milwaukee Records’ poster in advance of Dave’s 2014 show.

Milwaukee Records' poster outlined strict behavioral standards for patrons attending Dave Chappelle's show in 2014. (Image by Milwaukee Records)
Milwaukee Records’ poster outlined strict behavioral standards for patrons attending Dave Chappelle’s show in 2014. [Image via Milwaukee Records]
The fact that Dave’s parents, William and Yvonne Chappelle, were politically active, and educated Dave about the tragic and complex history of his family as African Americans in the United States, is also said to have influenced his exit from Chappelle’s Show.

Having seemingly left his extended sojourn away from the chaos and controversy of Hollywood notoriety behind him, Chappelle has re-entered the sphere of entertainment and publicity, appearing on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to discuss his upcoming shows and an encounter with Kanye West, as reported by The Inquisitr in June 2014.

Dave’s upcoming shows, which are nearly completely sold-out, are set to provide Chappelle with a re-introduction to the comedic circuit; one for which an audience millions-strong have waited, eagerly, for over a decade since the conclusion of the beloved Chappelle’s Show in-turn concluded the first chapter in Dave’s career. The comedian’s palpable composure, eloquence and sense of humor shown in appearances in recent years promise success for Dave Chappelle and his future endeavors.

[Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images]