From the moment I heard about The Oddball “Funny or Die” tour I was sold. The line up not only made it possible for me to see the musically funny and talented Flight of the Conchords BUT also announced that Dave Chappelle was making a comeback. I was counting down the days before the event came to my home state. I wanted to experience a comedy line up of a lifetime, spend time with good friends, drink overpriced beer and enjoy a end of the summer event. The festival ended up being one of the oddest and disappointing nights ever.
The afternoon started out with smiles for miles and a vibrant crowd. From the moment I walked into the Comcast Theater, I knew it was going to be a fun filled evening in Hartford, CT. After watching a few comedians open the show, sitting in one of the best seats in the whole venue I became full of excitement and internal celebration. Laughter is a gift and it’s a blessing to be able to give that gift to others. Experiencing so many talented and funny people under one roof is rare, especially when one of these people is someone you’ve looked up to since you can remember.
After a short intermission, Flight of the Conchords took the stage. My love for FOTC has grown intensely over the years so it was a sad day they announced they didn’t want to do their hit HBO show anymore. This blessed reunion of this musical comedy duo was just what I needed to get me pumped for a very long awaited return of one of the best comedians of my generation, Dave Chappelle.
After FOTC’s brilliant and somewhat perfect set, there was another break to prepare the stage for the comedic genius that is Mr. Chappelle himself. We all sat and waited patiently for the stage to be set while dancing in our seats to some hip hop jams played by a brilliant DJ. Suddenly the arena went dark and a light went on behind a giant white curtain that was up at the front of the stage. There stood a very familiar silhouette, the crowd instantly stood and cheered as loud as they could. In that moment, I felt an overwhelming sense of respect and love for a man that we’ve all come to know as a genius in his craft. The curtain dropped and I am pretty sure that was the moment when hell broke loose…
Chappelle started his set with a few jokes. The jokes stopped there. Like most audiences (at comedy shows, concerts, etc.) that has thousands of people, you will hear random cheers and yells throughout the venue. I was witness to people yelling out random “I love you’s” and quotes from Chappelle’s past movies and shows. Being that Dave is a seasoned entertainer, I can understand being annoyed by people that are rude but I can also understand someone of his status to be somewhat professional.
After a few more “I love you man’s” being yelled from the crowd, Chappelle officially called it quits. Right there on stage, in front of 1000′s of people. He grabbed his bottle of water, his cigarettes, pulled up his stool and sat there. I literally saw him quit at comedy for rest of the night and I witnessed all of this right from “the good seats”. I don’t think anyone really had a good seat last night. Once he took a seat, there was a tension in the air and it was a rapid downward spiral.
Chappelle stared at the crowd with complete disgust. There was even a point during the very bizarre and extremely awkward set where the audience was completely silent. The silence was short lived because at this point, people were pretty pissed off. There were people there that traveled over 8 hours to see someone they love and respect. There were comedians setting in the audience that opened for Chappelle earlier in the night and idolized him, patiently waiting for his set. That set, never really happened. At this point all Chappelle could say was “I’m going to have to read about this shit for months”. This was the moment when I realized, he completely was done for the evening.
I have never felt such disappointment in a entertainer that I admire in all my life. I know we’ve grown to accept that Dave Chappelle is a wild card and you don’t know which Dave you’re going to get but for ever person that shouted something out during his set there were another 100 people silently waiting and respecting the man they paid to see. He spoke of the audience being the reason he always wants to be paid up front. He sat and had a conversation with an audience member about her book as he read excerpts from it as if there was no one else in the room. He flipped everyone the bird as he smoked a cigarette and continuously told us how much we sucked. YES Dave, you should be respected but I would guess that 10% of the audience were the wrong doers yet you punished 100% of the audience?
Not only was it unprofessional and not the most classy way to go about things, but think of everyone on the tour that went on before you. If for any reason the Oddball Festival loses any money due to the outbursts and complete disrespect that occurred, everyone on the tour would suffer. He didn’t care about the people that traveled 100s of miles to be a part of the experience. He didn’t care about the countless hours people have put in to make the festival awesome for the people that attend it. He didn’t care about the woman that walked up to the front of the stage just to say “Dave, we love you. We want to hear what you have to say.” He simply didn’t care because 10% of the crowd were being just that, a crowd.
With all of this said, I don’t hate Dave Chappelle after this incident. I would also like to point out that he didn’t have a meltdown like a lot of news websites are stating. He wanted to be respected and in my opinion handled getting the respect he wanted poorly. I found this article VERY interesting and can understand the points being made. Being a lady of color, I didn’t feel or see this as a issue of racism last evening. It was a comedy show and sadly, there are loud and disrespectful assholes within the audience of MOST comedy shows, no matter what the race of the entertainer. It doesn’t make it right but comedy shows are breeding grounds for tough and rude crowds.
There was an insane amount of confusion and disappointment within the audience last night. Honestly, I wanted to wait a full day to write this post to process what exactly took place last night. Now that i’ve had this time, all I can feel is sadness. I feel bad for the amount of time wasted. Chappelle felt as if we’ve wasted his time and in turn wasted our time. Doesn’t make it right, but it makes it a cycle of disappointment.
To Dave, I wish you would have addressed the issue a bit differently. There is always a larger amount of good than there is bad but the bad always seems louder than the good. Next time, can you take a step back and realize the love before the hate. The positive was overwhelming in the beginning but you allowed the “bad” to become an infectious cancer. That cancer killed the entire positive, love and support that Hartford, CT wanted to shower you with.
To any asshole that thought it would be funny to add fuel to the fire, I hope your tongues fell out in your sleep last night. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, it’s the norm to hear random yells and screams from a crowd but at the same time, why is this our norm? Why do people drink overpriced malt liquor and decide it is time to be as loud as possible? The world may never know. I am not saying what Mr. Chappelle pulled last night was by any means acceptable but I am saying, maybe it’s time for you to shut the fuck up and act like a human in public for once.
All in all, I give the Oddball Festival 2 and a half out of 5 sprinkled filled shout glasses. It would have gotten 5 out of 5 if it didn’t become a clusterfuck of doom and gloom. I know a lot of you were not witness to the show last night but what are your thoughts? If you were there, I would also love to know what you thought. Please share your comments and love letters in the comments below! And as always….
P.S. I was interviewed by the Hartford Courant first thing this morning. You can read the interview here.