Dave Chappelle fears the 'Reverse Kramer'

No, that’s not some sort of inappropriate innuendo. It’s what Dave Chappelle says he was hoping to avoid when he recently took the stage. During his first interview in five years with San Francisco’s WiLD 94.9, he explained what happened during his bizarre, nearly silent stand-up routine at a charity event at Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino last month. “I came out on stage and the YouTube extravaganza began,” said Chappelle, who said members of the front row immediately began to heckle him, a move he thought was intended to provoke him to say something offensive à la Michael Richards during his infamous 2006 racist rant. “At a certain point,” he said, “you can’t possibly expect me [to continue].” Instead, he stayed on stage for the next 46 minutes, checking his text messages and occasionally muttering at the audience.

Chappelle has maintained a relatively low-profile since his overwhelming fame drove him to meltdown in 2005. In Friday’s interview, he admitted that it still gets to him when audience members boo and heckle. “You want to do well,” he said. “Comedy is a very approval-oriented field.” Check out the full clip — including more of Chappelle’s thoughts on the July 22 stand-up stand-off, his attitude toward the media these days, and his life in Ohio — after the jump.

So, PopWatchers, are you still disappointed by Chappelle’s retreat from the spotlight? Does it seem like he’ll ever be back to old form? As a comedian, do you think it was a cop-out for him to mentally check out of his act? Or, in light of Aziz Ansari’s recent verbal dust-up with an audience member, do you think he was right to play it safe and silent?

Read more:
Is Dave Chappelle returning to TV?
Et tu, Dave Chappelle and George Michael?: Why it hurts more when talented celebrities engage in bad behavior
Chappelle’s No-Show


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Comments (42 total) Add your comment
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  • azjeff

    Yes, he was right. I would think that he’s still in a delicate emotional state and all he could do when being heckled is check-out mentally.

    • tlo

      But if he wasn’t going to perform, he should have left the stage. That wasn’t fair to the majority that paid to see him, and wasn’t heckling him. Just get management to throw out the hecklers and continue with your show or get off the stage.

      • Matt

        Shouldn’t they have done that already? It drives me nuts that we don’t stand up to defend people. I think he felt it crossed the line because it happened right away. These weren’t drunks, these were generation-z nutcases who planned to try to get him to humiliate himself. The owners, managers, or other audience members should have done something when it got to that point. Good for Dave.

  • TQB

    It just goes to prove what a smart and talented guy he is. Hecklers are terrible, ruin shows for everyone and it’s great to see a performer stand up to it or just flat out refuse to deal with it. I feel badly for the others in the audience, but I respect Chappelle’s right to set boundaries for what he will and will not tolerate. He’s a human, not a puppet.

    • K8

      Then have the club remove the idiot hecklers and move on. I’m so over the tempermental artist bull.

      • K8

        Then again, I have zero artistic talent, so what do I know?

      • K8

        As do you for taking the name I did and commenting, so original

        But, what do I know

      • Bjork’sSwanDress

        OMG How dare you K8 steal K8’s username and parade your unthrilling replies to Templar’s uninteresting comments! You’re making Templar look good by comparison. The fake K8 should be hung up, with clothes pins, on a line and dried out in the sun, vampire style!

    • Angie

      Very well said. I don’t blame him.

  • Templar

    Love dave Chappelle and he’s always struck me as having his head screwed on straight. So if that was how he read the situation, I have to back him up.

    • Jason

      REALLY?!?!?! Dave Chappelle has always struck you as having his head screwed on straight? Are we talking about the same guy?

  • sarah d

    illdoctrine.com has a clip that’s sort of about this kind of thing only with Lauren Hill. Entertainers aren’t vending machines, we don’t get to shake them and have art come out, that isn’t how it works. I hope he heals and comes back when he’s ready.

    • K8

      But if you book a gig and are getting paid, you should deliver content, now with Hecklers, they should be removed and the show should go on. you are getting PAID, you have obligations at that point to perform.

      • Templar

        Granted, but the audience has an obligation to respect the performer. Robert’s Rules of Order; the speaker [performer] has the floor.

      • K8

        But that was a minority of the audience the majority was waiting for him to perform respectfully, the minority should have been ejected and the majority should have received the entertainment they paid for which was a comedy set not what Chappelle delivered.

      • sarah d

        K8 I have to agree with you, he should have asked for the hecklers to be removed and gone on with the show.

      • Bjork’sSwanDress

        Templar – It occurs to me that you might be taking your basic right to free speech a little too seriously. Who’s to say it’s okay for anyone (i.e. you) to say anything (i.e. what you’re saying) about any little thing that pops into their head, anyhow? You can’t give Dave Chapelle a free pass just because there is some odd rule that states that, as Linda Loman herself says famously, “Attention must be paid,” in this case to a comic with a history of ridiculousness. I’m confused by your bravado, but also by your username.

  • Spell not bound

    love dave, but looks like he is headed the way of Sly Stone…a fairly rapid exit from the public and fame and a slighly slower decent into something not quite all together there….hope he pulls up on the stick before…..

  • Dave Chappelle is Crazy

    Isn’t it possible that those in the front row didn’t start heckling until Chappelle started texting and not actually performing? I don’t understand why so many people are willing to believe the rantings of an absolute whack job?

  • jennab

    Love Dave, he is an absolute comic genius; repeats of Chappelle’s show are still among the funniest stuff on the teevee…new generation discovering him (like my 16-year-old son)

  • Pop Vulture

    I think it’s ok for someone to put their own mental health above the expectations of the public. Good for him for retreating for the spotlight. Good for him for not having either a meltdown or a breakdown on the stage. No hard feelings – just go be a non-famous person.

  • GG

    Dave- get it together, comedy really needs you. We are waiting! :)

  • kravnen

    used to be a big fan of chappelles until he flipped out for no reason and had a hissy fit. lost all respect for him. and this is just more diva behaivor. if hes so afraid of being butthurt by the audience, get off the stage and find a new job.

    • elizabeth

      Were you there when this hissy fit took place?

      So glad that posters on blogs have all the background information to make these grand air-tight conclusions.

    • kizzee29

      @kravnen: Clearly you are ill informed regarding the circumstances of his departure from the spotlight. Part of his issue was that he did not want to conform to the ridiculous demands being made by the network executives. Instead of becoming a virtual buffoon for the sake of the audience i.e (Martin Lawrence, Tyler Perry, etc) he stood his ground, and instead chose to walk away from the BS. You can’t blame him for that, he wanted to remain in integrity with his craft.

  • Hani

    OK, I am a HUGE Dave Chappelle fan but I am going to call BS on this. When he played a secret, last minute show in SF, I was so pumped to score expensive ass tickets. When we got there, we were sorely disappointed. He might have have like 2 or 3 rehearsed bits, which were genius of course. The rest of the time? He wanted hecklers! He literally had nothing to say. He ordered french fries, ate the french fries, smoked on stage, rubbed his belly, asked the audience “so what else is going on?” etc. etc. At 130am (the show started at 10pm on a weeknight), we left as he was making plans with the audience to talk a walk. Yeah. Take some time Dave. Work on some material. Come back when you are ready and don’t rush it.

    -Concerned Fan

  • kravnen

    im going off what he said about the comedy central incident. when he got pissed that a staffer laughed at his racial joke the wrong way. which is ridiculous. when u make a career off of racial humor, u r gonna have to deal with ppl laughing at said humor

  • kravnen

    so glad that posters on blogs have all the information and get sit high and mighty and look at others opinions all snobby. like i said i was a big fan before all that, and even after he left the show, until i saw why he flipped out.

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  • wgalvira

    There are too many jealous people out there . So he said ” f ” it !

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