"I wasn't aware I couldn't do that."
Dave Chappelle is a standup comedian who's been in more films than you probably realize. He's had supporting roles in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Nutty Professor, Con Air, Half Baked, You've Got Mail, Blue Streak, and, my personal favorite, Undercover Brother. But for as many movies as he's starred in, he hasn't broken through to superstar status; he still languishes in the deep pool of supporting actors. As such, Chappelle still has plenty of time to do the comedy circuits, keeping sharp and honing his quick wit. Actually, Chappelle is a solid regular on the circuit and draws large crowds wherever he goes. Lately Chappelle's celebrity has been on the rise, thanks in part to the many popular films he's starred in and his series on Comedy Central, but I still think of him as "Conspiracy Brother."
This disc is part of his "Killin' Them Softly" tour from 2000, and this show in particular is from his stop at the Lincoln Theater in Washington D.C. As Dave mentions during one of his first jokes, D.C. has a very large black population. As a consequence of that and who he is, obviously the majority of his audience is black too. But as the camera occasionally pans across the collected group, a white person can be seen in the audience. As much as I watched Dave's act, I also found myself watching the audience, and it's a perfect example of the differences between the two cultures. What first caught my eye and prompted me to keep tabs on the audience was the first white man that popped up. Normally not a big deal, but this guy was dressed in a suit and tie. Okay, now if you've ever been to a comedy show, no one is ever dressed in a suit and tie—unless, perhaps, you're in Vegas. I found that odd, further coupled by how casually all of his "neighbors" were dressed. Some time passed and the crowd was fully into the act. While most of the white people were clapping, sitting in the chairs, and sometimes nervously bouncing their legs, many of the black people were jumping in the air, giving Dave some skin, flailing their arms around, and otherwise quite exuberantly enjoying the show. Then they zoomed in on an elderly group of white ladies, and boy did they look so out of place. My point to all this? Nothing. It's just a classic character study in how different people react to the same situation. I simply found it an interesting example of cultural social interactions.
The show itself is geared for an adult audience due to its salty language and choice of topics, ranging from the police to the projects to drugs to Sesame Street to the Clinton sex scandal. Chappelle is very talented, very funny, and very good at standup. I never found myself bored with his clever insights into the differences between whites and blacks or the rather humorous potshots he often took at his own culture. On the whole, this is a very entertaining routine with many laugh-out-loud moments. While not as raw as many other comedians, Chappelle's congenial yet sly approach to topics is refreshingly comical. He doesn't shock you with language but shocks you with the punch line of a joke. I also enjoyed how he used the punch line in one joke and repeated it throughout the show to emphasize a certain point. He's definitely a talented man who should break through very soon; maybe I'll even be so fortunate and he'll kick Martin Lawrence to the curb.
The DVD itself is a rather slim affair, with not many bells or whistles. On the video side, you're treated to a full screen transfer that is very well done with crisp definition, rich colors, and nice detail. I noticed nary a flaw in the presentation, and it's far better than I would have expected for a taping of a live performance. The audio, surprisingly, is a 5.1 Dolby Digital track that also is very well done. Chappelle's voice comes through loud and clear with no distortion whatsoever. There's little use for the bass, but the surrounds are subtly used to enhance Chappelle's voice and to immerse you into the sounds of the audience. The only bonus feature is a preview section for additional titles under the Platinum Comedy Series: D.L. Hughley, Cedric I, Cedric II, Steve Harvey, Michael Colyar, Alex Thomas, Shaq, and Bruce Bruce.
Dave Chappelle is a funny man, and you will laugh heartily if you watch this performance. However, I don't see it having a lot of lasting appeal, as most humor is very time specific. So, feel free to give this one a rental, but I can't recommend a purchase.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Ventura Distribution
• Previews for Platinum Comedy Series: D.L. Hughley, Cedric I, Cedric II, Steve Harvey, Michael Colyar, Alex Thomas, Shaq, and Bruce Bruce
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