Yesterday in a great article that appeared in the New York Times, writer and clear comic junkie Jason Zinoman observed that "Dave Chappelle seems like the J. D. Salinger of comedy." It's a comparison that's most certainly valid--both dudes gained a massive yet cultish following for the great, yet short-lived seminal work in their respective fields, and their allure is arguably stronger because of that. Both men did/have done a remarkable job in preserving their privacy, with the refusal to soak up the spotlight creating some sort of supply and demand paradigm that works strongly in their favor.
That is, up until recently.
Around midnight on Thursday in the Mission district here, Dave Chappelle was standing onstage in a converted church called the Chapel when a member of the packed audience yelled, “Why make a comeback?”
Looking fit in a casual black shirt, Mr. Chappelle, a 39-year-old father of three, repeated the question, took a drag from his clove cigarette and leaned into a punch line with emphatic exasperation: “Private school is expensive!” Then he flashed a sneaky grin, clunked his microphone on his belly and scampered upstage the way he used to in the opening moments of his old series, “Chappelle’s Show.”
Later in his magnetically compelling set, which ran nearly two hours, he returned to the subject with a more sober perspective. “I don’t need to come back,” he said, pausing. “But why not?”
That last sentiment seems to be growing louder and louder as the months pass. First, it was some impromptu appearances at NYC's Comedy Cellar. Then at LA's famed Laugh Factory, and most recently San Francisco. Throughout it all, there have been rumors swirling about for a mega-comeback tour with Chris Rock, which some are labeling as the Watch the Throne of comedy.
It's been almost a decade since we've seen the greatness of Dave Chapelle in either standup or sketch form. But his uncanny style, composed bravado, and uncanny penchant for storytelling go arguably unmatched. And as one of the greater sketch comedy artists of all-time, you could spend hours on his shit and continue to learn stuff every time.
Whatever this is, it feels right. Greatness can only be contained for so long.
[H/T: New York Times]