When I heard that Dave Chappelle had signed a deal with Netflix I knew that hilarity would be heading our way. I still can watch old episodes of the Chappelle Show and laugh so hard that I’ll spit my drink out. I’ve seen the Charlie Murphy story about Prince a 100 times and it’s funny every damn time. So, I was excited that Chappelle dropped not one, but two new hour long specials on Netflix last week. And I was not disappointed.
Collection 1 includes two stand up specials, one filmed in Hollywood and the other in Austin. His jokes are on point and topical and controversial and of course, hilarious. He makes fun of himself and everyone else around him. But what I really liked was the distinctness between the two specials. The first one from Hollywood was your typical large scale stand up show that we see in theaters today. Big stage and huge audience, with Chappelle up there commanding it all. This first part was great. His running jokes of the times he met OJ Simpson had me laughing through the whole thing, though his bit about taking his son to see Kevin Hart was the best part of the show.
The second special was at a smaller venue in Austin, at least small for Chappelle’s status, and was more intimate. Still topical and hilarious but a little more subdued stand up routine. Chappelle even sits down and bums a cigarette off of an audience member at one point. So while both shows had different feels to them, they were still both great. I will admit that I have seen funny Chappelle stand up before. Killin’ Them Softly and For What It’s Worth were both funnier specials of his in my opinion. But that was a different time and a different Chappelle. The new Chappelle is more grown up and mature but still funny from just totally different angles. Any fan of his or his show should check out the Netflix specials for sure. They also just make me excited to have him back in the spotlight so we can see where his humor will lead us in the future.
I echo everything Craig said and just wanted to add a few more highlights from my point of view.
I really enjoyed the opening of both specials. Morgan Freeman’s narration was great, especially on the 2nd one where it was more tongue in cheek. The animation for the opening was a cool bit of foreshadowing for Chappelle’s social commentary to come. That was done by Elastic, the same company who did the Super Bowl Honda Yearbook commercial. They has also worked on the openings of many films and TV shows like Luke Cage, 13th, and Westworld to name a few.
His topical social commentary went between many hot button current issues like race and sexual identity, without caring if people were offended by his views. I appreciated how he found humor in his rougher personal moments, such as his intoxicated Detroit performance where he was booed. He also drew humor from his struggle to make sense of Bill Cosby’s recent legal troubles, since he considers him a mentor.
I couldn’t help but notice the irony that he walked away from his 50 million dollar Comedy Central contract over 10 years again, only to return now and earn 60 million from Netflix…just on his terms this time.
In the 2nd special from Austin City Limits, we see him expertly handle some light heckling from the crowd. While in the LA show he shows respect with his tribute to both Garry Shandling and Phife Dawg.
If anything, these specials just made me realize how much I missed him. He is a master of pacing and storytelling. His appearance on SNL a few months ago was just an appetizer and this is the main course. Dessert is still to come as we are getting at least one more Netflix special. I’m glad he’s back and hope he doesn’t retreat back to Ohio anytime soon.