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Dave Chappelle, Still The GOAT

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Over a decade ago, Dave Chappelle was on top of the world. His iconic TV show Chappelle’s Show ruled the airwaves and he was the most popular comedian in the country. But after 3 seasons he got fed up with Hollywood, walked away from a $50 million contract (!!!) and moved to South Africa. We didn’t hear from him for years and years. He became a mysterious figure, an enigma. He was like the JD Salinger of comedy (that’s the only literary reference I know – please clap). The illuminati tried to distract us from his absence with Mind Of Mencia. Stay woke.

He only gave us two stand-up specials before forcing himself into obscurity, but they were both painfully perfect and hilarious. Ask any modern stand-up comic in their 20s or early 30s, and Killing Them Softly was probably their comedy bible. For over a decade we didn’t hear shit from Dave, other than random paparazzi pictures that showed us that he got buff at some point which made us all uncomfortable. His influence on comedy stayed, though. He had already solidified his status as one of the most brilliant comics to ever grip a microphone.

But he finally returned in epic fashion this past year when he released FOUR new specials on Netflix. FOUR. That’s four hours of material released in one year. I do stand-up and I only wrote four jokes last year. And they were either about dicks or Kanye. Or Kanye’s dick. Look, the point is that Chapelle has insane work ethic.

The first double dose of specials came out back in March, entitled The Age Of Spin and Deep In The Heart Of Texas. Neither of them were recorded recently so the topics he covered were old news (Donald Sterling, Caitlyn Jenner, etc) but they were so funny that it didn’t matter. They both proved that his joke crafting skills are as impeccable as ever. The way he goes on an insightful, long-winded rant about the state of America since WWII that unexpectedly explodes into a shocking transition into a bit about the Bill Cosby scandal is like watching a trapeze artist walk a tightrope with their eyes closed. The way he goes on a tangent about Lil Wayne and pussy juice is, dare I say, poetic.

But on New Years Eve he dropped two more specials, Equanimity and The Bird Revelation. Equanimity, recorded in a big theater in DC a few months ago, feels meticulously planned down to every pause. Bird Revelation is the polar opposite, it was recorded in front of a tiny crowd at The Comedy Store in LA and it’s just him fucking around for 45 minutes. In Bird Revelation he effortlessly switches between a goofy jester and an intense, stone-faced philosopher at the drop of a dime, getting dark and serious at times. The whole thing is ballsy and insightful.

Chapelle is the GOAT and he’s proved it multiple times now. I would say that “Chappelle is back” but it looks like he plans on disappearing and becoming the Bigfoot of comedy yet again. But we can at least be thankful that he gave us four brilliant stand-up specials in one year to keep us laughing for a long ass time.

(Also, I went through that whole article without saying “I’m Rick James, bitch”.)

Image via YouTube

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Wally Bryton

TFM's most beloved writer

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