Dave Chappelle’s surprise inclusion at this year’s Oddball Festival is off to a rocky start. The traveling comedy festival touched down in Hartford, CT Wednesday night and, as The Laugh Button reports, Chappelle didn’t take too kindly to the excessive audience chatter.
According to reports on Twitter, and as confirmed in the fan footage below, Chappelle ignored the rain of boos and, instead, spent most of his 25-minute set making small talk with audience members in the front rows, smoking a cigarette, and even reading a book. “The next time I’m on television and they interview me and say, ‘Why did you go back to Africa?’ I’m not gonna say Hartford did it. I’m not gonna tell them that.” Chappelle can be heard saying in the first of the two clips. He also reportedly told the sound man to put on Kanye West’s “New Slaves”.
Update: Ebony has shared more details on Chappelle’s performance, noting that he was immediately greeted by hecklers making references to Chappelles Show and other various projects. Chappelle was quoted as saying, “Ive been up here a while now and I thought it was me but now I’m sure its you. There is definitely something wrong with you.”
Commenters on YouTube who attended the show are split on who’s to blame. One commenter, Josh Z, wrote, “It was definitely interesting, I give Dave all the credit for sticking to his guns. Seriously fuck 95% of that audience. It really has to be awful trying to perform for a crowd like that. Especially on a tour under the conditions he’s in – coming back after a career implosion. He’s still a professional and should act like it, but even the best can get shook.”
Another commenter, Josh Goulart, wrote, “I was there as well. I was in the back section, the lawn. People were fine back there it seemed. I’m not sure how bad it was in front, but theres always gona be assholes at a huge event. us “normal” people just DEAL with it. It sucked that they were a little more vocal than usual , but dave should have, and in fact did have many opportunities to turn it around and get through the bit. I think he got shaken up. and just couldn’t recover from it. was sad. I really like Dave.”
Michael Colianna offered his take: “I was there and it was a very eerie experience. I get that it’s viewed as poor taste to call out to the performer like that and (especially) comedians have a certain rhythm and timing that the shouts throw off, but he clearly did not want to perform (too drunk/high/tired?) and instead of owning up to that he found a convenient straw man. Any time he actually talked, everyone shut up and listened. Sad to have seen.”
Chappelle is set to return to the stage tonight in Pittsburgh. Maybe Prince will show up for moral support.
Oddball Festival 2013 Tour Dates:
08/30 Pittsburgh, PA @ First Niagara Pavilion
08/31 Tinley Park, IL @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheater
09/01 Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
09/06 Camden, NJ @ Susquehanna Bank Center
09/07 Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
09/08 Mansfield, MA @ Comcast Center
09/13 Denver, CO @ Fiddlers Green Amphitheatre
09/15 Irvine, CA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
09/20 Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheater
09/21 – Las Vegas, NV @ Mandalay Bay
09/22 Phoenix, AZ @ Desert Sky Pavilion