Dave Chappelle lights up Comedy Works -- with more shows to go
With nine shows down and three more to go, Dave Chappelle has been running a comedy marathon this week at Comedy Works. With almost no promotion outside of the club's e-mail list, tickets have been selling out in record time, and no matter how many extra shows are added (sometimes three in a night, running until 1:40 a.m.), the funny-hungry fans gobble up tickets like they're Soylent Green.
While Chappelle didn't invite all of us out to Shotgun Willies afterward, as he did with Sunday night's crowd (nearly all 300 of them took him up on the trip to the strip club), the often unscripted performance I saw last night aroused bigger laughs than I'd heard at Comedy Works in a long time. And Chappelle still had another show to do that night, as well as three more tonight.
Similar to his heavily anticipated show at last September's Oddball Comedy Festival, Chappelle's appearance here came with a handful of strict demands: Anyone who so much as peeks at their cellphone during the show will be instantly ejected from the club; same goes for heckling. Meanwhile, Chappelle will be allowed to smoke as many American Spirit cigarettes as he feels necessary during the show (around seven to ten).
And, of course, there's always that ubiquitous audience member who feels he or she is so damn clever to have thought of yelling a Chappelle Show reference at the performer. "Let's be in the present, and not waste time shouting out things from the past," said emcee Deacon Gray before the show started. "And let's not waste time recording this for the future on your phone....This guy's like Miles Davis, let's be in the present for it."
Dave Chappelle at the Denver Oddball Comedy and Curiosity festival.
For anyone who scoffs at the comparison of Chappelle to the legendary jazz musician, consider the chances that any other entertainer who quit working working for nearly six years (Chappelle's last special was in 2005) would then emerge out of nowhere for an unannounced tour, with little promotion, and still sell out twelve shows in five days at $55 a pop -- and be allowed to chain-smoke throughout his packed performances. Chappelle entered the stage to the music of Jay Z, exited to Kanye West, and will soon be headed to Minneapolis for eight more secret shows in four days, performing at Prince's hometown club, First Avenue.