“Comedy is a very approval oriented field,” says comedian Dave Chappelle in his first interview in five years. Currently, the world’s population is just under seven billion people. Having everyone liking a single person is a statistical impossibility, much less thinking they’re funny. And Chappelle pointed out this fact out while chatting with the morning radio crew at San Francisco’s Wild 94.9 FM about the incident Chappelle had at a charity benefit in Florida where Chappelle opted to not tell jokes.
Chappelle was performing for over a thousand people, but the front row engaged in a “YouTube extravaganza” having their phones out to record him. In addition to taping without permission, many of those seated in the front were also talking, engaging with and even heckling Chappelle, but security at the event did nothing, as they were at an Indian casino and apparently the people in the front were of Seminole descent. Though they are a small fraction of the audience, the hecklers taping Chappelle ruined the show for everyone else. Dave commented that they were trying to catch him in a “reverse Kramer” situation where he would racially attack the crowd like Michael Richards did a few years ago at Hollywood’s Laugh Factory.
In case any of you were wondering, those are incredibly difficult circumstances in which to try make people laugh. Certainly, someone of the stature and ability of Chappelle deserves a little more cooperation on the behalf of the event staff and the venue. Still, even under those terrible conditions, Chappelle’s decision to not tell jokes further emphasizes the implicit truth that everyone will not find the same thing funny. Chappelle made it clear, “If I put forth a legitimate effort, then I feel like, you know, if it doesn’t work out, there’s nothing I can really do about it.”
Even in the interview while Dave is trying to explain what happened and what’s going on with him living in Ohio, the DJs ask vulgar, non-sequitur questions about Nicki Minaj and Alicia Keys’ butts. Their banter is quite annoying and really stifles Chappelle’s sincere explanation, but then again, that’s what 94.9 FM listeners and their DJs are into and they’re free to find that funny. And Chappelle doesn’t need the explicit approval of a front row who are just trying to get a few million YouTube views out of him.