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What went wrong during Dave Chappelle’s Austin appearance?
June 25, 2012 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Dave Chappelle, still facing pressure from audiences who want him to do bits from "Chappelle's Show", did not amuse an audience in Austin. Which begs the question: Do we expect too much from entertainers?
posted by reenum (107 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hff. No idea what to make of that. We're the crowd dicking hecklers? Or did they cheer too much? I'd draw a distinction the article doesn't. There was a taper in the crowd, that's never good, but it sounds like Chapelle didn't go off on them or anything. Here's a possibility the article doesnt raise: maybe post-breakdown Chapelle isn't all that good anymore, and that's just what you get from him.
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on June 25, 2012


Here's a review of Chappelle's Little Rock set.
posted by box at 4:48 PM on June 25, 2012


The Austin crowd, from what I understand, was essentially hijacked by a handful of obnoxious hecklers.

Not of the cheering sort, but the dickish sort. An embarrassment to Austin.
posted by kaseijin at 4:56 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Box, What means "call the Hogs"?
posted by Renoroc at 4:57 PM on June 25, 2012


Box, What means "call the Hogs"?

Yeah, what does that mean? I've never heard that expression before, but the article uses it as if it is a common phrase (which leads me to believe that it is a common phrase in Arkansas).
posted by asnider at 5:00 PM on June 25, 2012


Metafilter: We're the crowd dicking hecklers?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:00 PM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do we owe him, or does he owe us?

Can we officially name this "The Comic Book Guy Quandary?"
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:01 PM on June 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Dave Chappelle brought this on himself. He had a hit show, it got gigantic right when youtube got interesting and so he blew up and imploded onto himself. He dwarfed his own stardom by getting away from it all, to try to be more simplistic. Maybe he felt threatened? The only way for him to break away from this is to join an ensemble, a rap group perhaps, where he can adequately build a following for himself, rather than Rick James, bitch.
posted by parmanparman at 5:01 PM on June 25, 2012


Calling the Hogs is an Arkansas Razorback sports thing. The crowd goes "Wooooooo. Pig! Sooey! Wooooooo. Pig! Sooey! Wooooooo. Pig! Sooey! RAZORBACKS!"
posted by zardoz at 5:02 PM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


It seems like whenever this comes up for Chappelle, it boils down to hecklers. Which is kind of odd if you think about all the other famous comedians who have to deal with hecklers and don't end up sitting there allowing his set to Peter out and die. The guy really doesn't have the heart for it anymore. Although I can't blame him, I don't think I could sit there and work through other peoples asshole behavior. Now that I think about it, that's pretty much my # 1 rule about any job I take - no working with assholes.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 5:06 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


This all seems a little melodramatic, no? What went wrong during Dave Chappelle's Austin appearance? It's a comedy gig, not Chernobyl. Maybe he had a bad night.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:06 PM on June 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


He dwarfed his own stardom by getting away from it all, to try to be more simplistic. Maybe he felt threatened?

It's pretty public knowledge that Chappelle abandoned ship because he wasn't sure if his racial satire was being misappropriated. I don't think it had anything to do with him not being able to handle his own fame - It was how his fans were handling his material.
posted by Think_Long at 5:11 PM on June 25, 2012 [45 favorites]


The Austin crowd, from what I understand, was essentially hijacked by a handful of obnoxious hecklers.

His entire career was essentially hijacked by obnoxious hecklers, and I don't think he ever really got over it. When I saw him circa '04-'05, the entire crowd was heckling and yelling DO RICK JAMES BITCH, DO RICK JAMES BITCH. I understand completely why he melted down; his crowds went from being really cool and supportive to a bunch of one-note morons, practically overnight.
posted by naju at 5:11 PM on June 25, 2012 [25 favorites]


What went wrong during Dave Chappelle’s Austin appearance?

Note that the article never actually answers this question. The author gives us a lot of characterizations, adjectives and adverbs, and she does a lot of hand-wringing about why what happened, happened—but she never gets around to telling us what happened. What the heck did happen?
posted by cribcage at 5:19 PM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


When I saw him circa '04-'05, the entire crowd was heckling and yelling DO RICK JAMES BITCH, DO RICK JAMES BITCH. I understand completely why he melted down; his crowds went from being really cool and supportive to a bunch of one-note morons, practically overnight.

I saw the same thing happen around 04/05. It was painful to watch him try to get through his material and ultimately give in to the hecklers.
posted by quiet coyote at 5:20 PM on June 25, 2012


It sort of seems that the performance wasn't very good and the author is casting around trying to find reasons why.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:20 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


My friend on LJ was at that show and he was absolutely pissed at the "bros" in the show, disgusted by the so called fans who couldn't stfu and just let Dave do his thing. :(

Interesting to see this on MeFi...
posted by symbioid at 5:22 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slapping down hecklers is Stand Up 101. The fact that guys like Louis, Joe Rogan, or Jim Norton can get control of a similar sized crowd with something as simple as a "shut up, stupid," tells me that this is not really a problem Chappelle is very interested in solving.
posted by FeralHat at 5:23 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That sucks. He's not fucking Carrot-top.
posted by Artw at 5:23 PM on June 25, 2012


He's not fucking Carrot-top.

Oh man, thank god they're not dating.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 5:26 PM on June 25, 2012 [23 favorites]


Oh man, thank god they're not dating.

Maybe they're waiting until marriage. A lack of fucking does not imply a lack of dating (nor vice versa).
posted by asnider at 5:27 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think a little energy and effort is too much to ask from a paid performer.
posted by Area Man at 5:28 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


What the heck did happen?

The Paramount Theatre's Facebook post, quoted at the end of the article, seems to indicate that a few folks shouting and hollering throughout the act pretty much ruined shit for everyone, but that Chappelle seemed to indicate that he did not want them kicked out.

If that's the case, it does seem to be, as Mass Appeal put it, "He was just there to collect a paycheck and ride on out of town." Or hell, maybe it was a bad night and he just didn't feel like giving it his all. Who knows? He's not exactly the most predictable performer, as brilliant as he is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:28 PM on June 25, 2012


Hmm... whenever I try to perform, a bunch of idiots show up and shout at me. And these are my FANS. And I have enough money that I never have to do this again. Hmm...

Can't say as I blame him.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:30 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh shit - reading that bit about how Chappelle insisted one heckler not be removed reminds me of when I saw the Mr. Show live thing way back when, and John Ennis was righteously pissed at a heckler, so much so that he came marching down OFF THE STAGE, pointed at the heckler and said something along the lines of "SECURITY GET THAT MOTHER FUCKER OUT OF HERE!" Like seriously raging. It was amazing and awesome. I don't think I've ever seen someone so pissed at a heckler. I swear he would have jumped over and beat the shit out of the guy if they hadn't ended up removing him.
posted by symbioid at 5:31 PM on June 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Also interesting that as Chapelle declines in output and quality, his former partner and co-creator of The Chappelle Show, Neal Brennan, is quickly becoming one of the more exciting voices in standup, on Twitter, and in podcasting.
posted by FeralHat at 5:33 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think I've ever seen someone so pissed at a heckler.

Google "Bill Hicks loses it."
posted by Bookhouse at 5:35 PM on June 25, 2012 [25 favorites]


I haven't been to his later shows in person, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's trying out a new space in his stand up after his TV show made that an otherwise hostile environment for how he traditionally did comedy.

It must be hard to want to do comedy but stuck as some brand, never able to just "do a show" because it's followed with little aftershocks of WHAT IS THE STATE OF DAVE CHAPPELLE on an internet far bigger than, say, the Paramount for one evening..
posted by dougmoon at 5:36 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This doesn't generate a lot of sympathy from me. He is so talented that his fans love him too much. Sheesh, is the toilet seat cold too?
posted by Brocktoon at 5:38 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Google "Bill Hicks loses it."

My favorite part is how he bellows about how his audience is comprised of idiots who can't appreciate how intelligent he is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:42 PM on June 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


If his fans really loved him they would have shut up and let him do his thing. Stand-up is not a participatory medium. Most comics know how to make their audience shut up, but Dave either couldn't or didn't want to. So there was an imbalance that Dave should have been regulating that he did not regulate. We don't know why that was, but then there's a lot we don't know about Dave Chappell. It resulted in a weird, uncomfortable performance. That's bound to happen.

But basically, if you want to blame someone, blame the audience. It's called manners. You don't need to be the center of attention ALL THE TIME, hoping this one time is gonna go viral. People need to learn how to shut the fuck up.
posted by bleep at 5:47 PM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'd like to think that an artist is only responsible for misbehavior from the audience when he has encouraged it. Not because he has had some popular success.

We don't get to behave like jackasses the moment somebody has a moment of success and then say they did it to themselves. It takes two people to agree to a contract, and I don't think Chappelle ever signed off on that one.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:48 PM on June 25, 2012


Bookhouse: "I don't think I've ever seen someone so pissed at a heckler.

Google "Bill Hicks loses it."
"

Oh, that's *not* an impersonation of an Alex Jones rant?
posted by symbioid at 5:48 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't expect too much from entertainers. Heckling entertainers to perform their old bits is just over-the-top entitlement, and it's not a "we" thing so much as a "some people are incredibly rude assholes" thing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:49 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Folks, starting big pedantic side conversations about whether the OP used "begs the question" correctly is sort of rude and not cool. You may want to either email the OP or find some way to acknowledge that the turn of phrase makes you twitchy without having your twitchy reaction basically take over the thread.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:50 PM on June 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


I think artists are entitled to do what they want. However, I think we, the fans, are equally entitled to vote with our wallets, ears, or voices if they don't do things we enjoy. Maybe it's because I went to too many concerts where they wanted to play their new songs nobody cares about rather than songs people like.

What I'm saying is "PLAY TAKIN' CARE OF BUSINESS!"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:55 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, let me rephrase, because my last comment actually wasn't meant to pick on the "grammaticalness" of the phrase, but rather to ask: Why does what happened in Austin raise the question: "Do we expect too much from entertainers?"

I don't see that question actually being raised in the article, so I'm curious as to why the OP chose to frame the FPP that way. I don't think one bad show -- which likely was the fault of some idiot dude bros -- forces us to ask that question.
posted by asnider at 5:55 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ghostride The Whip: I think we, the fans, are equally entitled to vote with our wallets, ears, or voices if they don't do things we enjoy.

Feel free to vote with your wallet, but when you vote with your voice while at a performance, you're denying the rest of the audience their own, quiet votes for getting to enjoy the performance they also paid for.
posted by gilrain at 5:57 PM on June 25, 2012 [48 favorites]


Agree with asnider! The article doesn't support its thesis in any way--it doesn't raise the question "Do we expect too much from entertainers?" so much as it raises the questions "Why are some people asshole hecklers?" and "Should performers be held accountable for not coping well with hecklers?"
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:59 PM on June 25, 2012


Maybe Chappelle should start performing with his back to the audience, like Miles Davis. (I actually don't think that would work at all for standup, alas.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:01 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and, "Are we expecting too much if we're disappointed when performers don't cope well with hecklers?" It's a step farther than most people would take that, maybe, but I don't think the post is misleadingly framed.
posted by gilrain at 6:01 PM on June 25, 2012


"He is so talented that his fans love him too much. Sheesh, is the toilet seat cold too?"

I don't think this really gives enough weight to how much work it takes to "be talented" and how difficult it must be when a television audience, used to getting an edited, consistent product that can be rewatched on demand becomes a stand up audience.

There's a breed of artist that enjoys performing, but doesn't deal well with fame. They're not the ones putting on arena shows were they knock the hits out of the park all night (though that's fun to see too) but they may put on a weird, engaging show if the moment's right. I like to think that when you buy a ticket to any live show you make a little bet, and some bets are riskier than others but gambling is part of the fun included in your ticket price.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 6:10 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Box, What means "call the Hogs"?

There's a tapir in the crowd.
posted by hal9k at 6:12 PM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


The fantasy of all color.
posted by Mblue at 6:12 PM on June 25, 2012


Google "Bill Hicks loses it."

My favorite part is how he bellows about how his audience is comprised of idiots who can't appreciate how intelligent he is.


Pretty much all of his career then.
posted by Artw at 6:13 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pretty much all

It's said of any, so, Alice.
posted by Mblue at 6:16 PM on June 25, 2012


"Should performers be held accountable for not coping well with hecklers?"
IMO, no. Fuck hecklers. Saw Todd Glass a few months ago at a local comedy club and there were signs everywhere that basically said "if you so much as talk during the show we will eject you from the club without a refund." They were super up-front about that when we got tickets, when they stamped our hands, etc. Mr. Glass actually did a whole bit about that, talking in part about how great it was to perform at that particular club.

If I don't like a show, I can always leave, that's fine.

But just because I don't like a show does not mean I somehow magically gain the ability to dick over everyone else in the audience that bought a ticket to see the show, not hear my probably-drunken and mostly unintelligible hooting.

Ok hecklers? We didn't come to the show to listen to your dumb ass. If we wanted to hear your brand of wit we could just hang out in a junior high hallway for ten minutes.

To be honest with you, I think comedy venue security should be required by law to carry tazers at all times. The second some idiot opens his mouth to shout some brainless interruption, bam, 30,000 volts right to the tonsils.

Just throwing that idea out there.
posted by kavasa at 6:24 PM on June 25, 2012 [15 favorites]


When I read the lead-in question--Do we expect too much from entertainers?--I immediately thought of this 2003 article about Jeff Mangum (which has been linked on MeFi at least once before in a comment). This article never fails to disturb me. (Plus it seems to raise the question more dramatically and directly than the Chappelle review.)
posted by mc2000 at 6:35 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


My favourite ever heckle was "Why are you doing this?"
posted by Damienmce at 6:39 PM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Well, you have a guy who backed away from a hit show at least in part because he thought he was drawing the wrong crowd. Chappelle may also have had some kind of breakdown -- which, quite frankly, would be a perfectly reasonable response to overnight superstardom. But he ostensibly left his show because he felt like people were laughing at it for the wrong reasons. Leaving aside the racial dimensions of that -- leaving aside whether some white people were laughing a little too hard at the n-word and perhaps repeating it with a little too much excitement -- the basic complaint here is the familiar refrain of the artist who gets huge and realizes a lot of his or her newfound fans are assholes. So he didn't want to deal with that, and walking away from it all was one way to get out from under it...a pretty damn extreme way, a way that sounds kind of crazy even to me and believe me when I say I am sympathetic. But a way. And so now maybe he pokes his head out every couple years to see if the assholes are still out there waiting. And if they are, he goes back inside and plays video games or watches TV or maybe writes a blog under an assumed name or something. It sucks for people who think he's funny -- I'd love to see new stuff -- but no, the dude doesn't owe me anything. He's entitled to live life the way he wants.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:54 PM on June 25, 2012 [35 favorites]


calling the hogs

i got out of having to run the mile one year in elementary PE because i could properly call the hogs.
posted by nadawi at 7:06 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think artists are entitled to do what they want. However, I think we, the fans, are equally entitled to vote with our wallets, ears, or voices if they don't do things we enjoy. Maybe it's because I went to too many concerts where they wanted to play their new songs nobody cares about rather than songs people like.

Comedy is different from music, though -- even down to a neurological level. Music is patterns, comedy is surprise. We go to a concert expecting certain songs, but we go to a stand-up show expecting new jokes. If I go to a Thomas Dolby concert and he doesn't play "She Blinded Me With Science," then I'm going to be pissed.* If I go to a Chris Rock concert and he's still doing three solid minutes from "Bring the Pain," I'm going to be just as pissed.

So when Dave Chappelle refuses to do "I'M RICK JAMES, BITCH!" and some fratboy douche keeps calling for it, it's far more egregious than some idiot calling out "SCIENCE!" after every other song Thomas Dolby plays.

* -- He did play it (albeit a touch grudgingly), and it was awesome.
posted by Etrigan at 7:17 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I saw him in Vegas while his show was at its peak. It felt like nobody was there to watch him, they were all there to just continuously shout "I'm Rick James, bitch!". His material was funny and he didn't give in to hecklers that night, but I felt horrible for him, angry at the other people in the audience, and kind of pissed at security for not shutting the people starting it down before it became a chorus.

At this point I'm wondering why he doesn't book shows under a pseudonym or show up at open mic nights. People who like him will find him, people who really love seeing comedy will see him and everyone else can just watch reruns and shout at the TV while pounding cheap beer and Cuervo.
posted by mikesch at 7:24 PM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Just play Freebird already!
posted by malocchio at 7:52 PM on June 25, 2012


I was under the impression that Chappelle was a super-nice guy. In order to control a crowd of rowdy hecklers you need to be an asshole, or at least pretend really well. He may just not have that quality.
posted by schroedinger at 7:58 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let's be frank - Dave Chappelle burned out a long time ago. I don't mean "burned out" in the sense of not being funny - I mean "burned out" in the Kurt Cobain sense. He had all the fame and success he thought he wanted and discovered that he simply couldn't handle it. I mean for god's sake, we're talking a guy who turned down $50 million to do a third season of his show, and chose instead to hide in Africa. It should be obvious that he's performing for his own reasons, not for fame or a paycheck.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:18 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hecklers have no place in comedy. Especially when you're playing a theater, which is completely different from playing in a dark, drunken comedy club.
posted by ColdChef at 8:28 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some tips from a journalist who attended the Austin show: How not to be a sucky audience member
posted by jamjames at 9:54 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hecklers have no place in comedy.

Well, true enough, except that I think it's kinda the other way around. Good comedy makes sure the heckling never get started - or get quickly shouted down by the rest of the audience who are enjoying the act.

Unfunny comics get heckled. That's basically the way it works. Suddenly self-conscious comics (no one's mentioned Eddie Murphy) who become embarassed and uncomfortable with the bits that made them famous are not good comics. And they shouldn't be on stage. And if they are, then the hecklers can have them.
posted by three blind mice at 10:00 PM on June 25, 2012


Well, true enough, except that I think it's kinda the other way around. Good comedy makes sure the heckling never get started - or get quickly shouted down by the rest of the audience who are enjoying the act.

I have seen plenty of outstanding, established comedians (Patton Oswalt, Louis CK, Zach Galifianakis) deal with hecklers. So it's just not true that only the unfunny ones get heckled/have the hecklers not "shouted down" by the audience. I don't think it's instinctive for most good egg audience members to engage hecklers in any way, shape or form. They let security or the comedian himself do tat.
posted by mreleganza at 10:08 PM on June 25, 2012


Hecklers have no place in comedy.

That seems to be a very American thing; there's a lot more audience participation in standup in the UK and Europe. Not that comics don't slap those down if necessary (there are some great if uncomfortable bits of Richard Herring absolutely destroying one drunk asshat on youtube), but more heckling is tolerated if good natured and funny.

Less rockstar attitude.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:36 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if they are, then the hecklers can have them.
Only if they can personally refund my ticket price. And again, hecklers are idiots with nothing to say. The "favorite heckle" posted upthread was "why are you doing this" and frankly that's a witless turd. Better shit comes out of junior high, tbh. Way better shit comes out of the dinner conversation 'round my house. I did not drop $20+ on the ticket alone, never mind whatever overpriced drinks I may get, to hear whatever weak bullshit some prick can drunkenly yell at the stage from the safety of the audience. If he's that funny, fine, he can do some open mics and do his own comedy.

If the comedian I paid to see bombs and his set blows, then fine, that's part of the risk I signed on to. I did not sign on to hear someone who thinks "class clown!!!" under his picture in a decades-old yearbook makes me give a damn what he thinks about the set.

Fuccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccck hecklers, dude. They are the goose turds that ruin walks around the lake.
posted by kavasa at 10:36 PM on June 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


Maybe I like the word "turd" too much, but it's a pretty good word.
posted by kavasa at 10:38 PM on June 25, 2012 [4 favorites]



I have seen plenty of outstanding, established comedians (Patton Oswalt, Louis CK, Zach Galifianakis) deal with hecklers. So it's just not true that only the unfunny ones get heckled/have the hecklers not "shouted down" by the audience. I don't think it's instinctive for most good egg audience members to engage hecklers in any way, shape or form. They let security or the comedian himself do tat.
In a normal distribution of 1-2% assholes, the assholes will be effectively silenced by peer pressure, but if that distribution hits some critical threshold, whoa nelly, now you've got a mob on your hands. Which sounds like what happened here.

I think that Dave's plan was probably to phone it in, collect a paycheck, and hop a 737 back to rural Ohio before sundown. Insofar as Chapelle reportedly delivered a mediocre performance, fan rage can be seen as reasonable.

It's understandable to be accustomed to the pressure in '03, but in '12? It's part of the myth of celebrity that one's assent to media godhood be accompanied by the last-ditch effort to escape one's own fame. (See: Dylan's motorcycle accident, and a deliberately bad album.) A rising celebrity either survives this moment of impact or doesn't. When Dave Chapelle comes back to play mediocre comedy sets, almost a decade after his fame, is he not participating in his own unbearable fame?
posted by deathpanels at 10:47 PM on June 25, 2012


"why are you doing this" and frankly that's a witless turd

I pretty much doubt that the motivation for that was to be witty.
posted by Ardiril at 10:57 PM on June 25, 2012


Less rockstar attitude.

I don't think it's rockstar attitude at all (speaking as a standup comedian on the lower rung of the business.) I do a lot of small town one-nighter gigs in the US inland west. Rockstar attitude is actually pretty useful in stopping heckling. so are some bad habits such as obvious material, pandering to the audience (let's hear from the ladies!), etc. but I try to avoid those. I've been lucky, have never been heckled much. Maybe lucky, maybe my look (I'm 6'2" wiry and shaven head.) I know I dress and act a bit more butch at these gigs.

Hecklers suck. A shocking number of them think they're "helping the show" by letting you destroy them, but mostly they're witless, drunk attention whores (85% male, to be clear). The problem is, if all goes well you will destroy them, but the thrill of seeing the asshole they know get destroyed is much more interesting to the audience that your clever insights about modern life, and the rest of your actualyl worthwhile material pales in comparison.

I can't imagine if every third audient was a shithead yelling "Rick James Bitch!" I have a ton of respect for Chappelle, even beyond his hilarity.
posted by msalt at 11:34 PM on June 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's sad that people would dismiss him for turning down 50 million to "hide in Africa." Also sad that his not going after his hecklers is dismissed as 'just showing up for a paycheck.' Maybe it's difficult, for personality/mental health reasons, to treat assholes like assholes.

I can't see Chapelle doing the Louis C.K. thing of addressing a (female) heckler, "say, when you were born, did the doctors say, look, there's a cunt coming out of a cunt?" Maybe that's what it takes to be a stand-up comic (and I love Louis) but I can't disrespect Dave for not going to the dark side of the force, even though his performance might suffer as a result.
posted by IwishIwasFordMaddoxFord at 12:48 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


If a guy heckled at any other sort of stage performance, you'd want him tossed. Yes, maybe the actor isn't having an especially good night, or maybe the violinist is a bit shaky, but you can't loudly mock them from the back row and wreck the performance for everyone else.

I guess people at a comedy act more easily lose a sense of the necessary barrier between themselves and the performer -- people are laughing and clapping and loudly agreeing every few seconds while the comedian at least appears to be talking with rather than at them -- but you still ought to toss the hecklers.
posted by pracowity at 3:27 AM on June 26, 2012


It's not quite a heckle, but one of the best audience comments I've heard of came at one of Jimmy Carr's first goods after his tax avoidance came to light.

A man walks in twenty minutes late, prompting Carr to say 'where were you? You're late!'. The man quickly responded 'I was doing my tax returns'.
posted by knapah at 4:20 AM on June 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Robin Williams and Whoopie Goldberg and Patton Oswalt and even Conan Obrein have no problems with combining their "rock-star love" with a 90 minute set. The old club routines won't really work - but then again, to tell the truth, I don't think anyone's club routine from the '90s would work anymore - comedy is a lot more autobiographical and the jokes are interwoven with a larger narrative. The truly old warhorses - Don Rickles, Joan Rivers - and the acts where a one or two liner is the whole deal - Stephen Wright - can still kill, because the audience knows the deal. Everyone else doing comedy really needs to move with the times. You can't do something as brilliant as the Chapelle show and then regress into doing what you were doing before the Chapelle show. The audience is going to want to see growth, especially if you aren't going to be doing your famous bits and catchphrases.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:25 AM on June 26, 2012


We live in an era of entitled entertainment. Nationally televised shows are expected to shout out to the "fans" on Tumblr, creators who appear on Twitter or Facebook or elsewhere are expected to dance for thrown peanuts, and, at the smallest level, if someone is bored with the movie they paid to see, they'll pull out the smartphone and watch a different one in the theater. This is very much linked with the notion that music should be free to download, torrenting movies isn't any big deal, and HBO should stop being dicks and let us upload entire episodes of Game of Thrones to Vimeo. We have unprecedented access to media now and it's made us a bunch of lazy, demanding, impatient assholes who hop on the Internet and scream that it's a slap in the face or a violation of our childhood when we don't get what we want.
posted by Legomancer at 5:12 AM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


What went wrong during Dave Chappelle’s Austin appearance?

I don't know, what did happen? I'm with cribcage.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 AM on June 26, 2012


We live in an era of entitled entertainment.

I would expand that thought to entitlement in general in all areas.

In an age when instant gratification is considered a human right instead of a technological anomaly, when malfeasance by our institutions goes unpunished, when elections are sold to the highest bidder and the mere idea of community, sacrifice and the common good is aggressively discouraged and ridiculed by the ruling class, what else would any thoughtful person expect?

Chappelle is an immensely talented and intelligent man who doesn't need to eat shit in order to survive anymore. Good for him for not taking any shit from obnoxious hecklers. Seems like that's all many aspire to be anymore.
posted by Hickeystudio at 5:56 AM on June 26, 2012


I don't know, what did happen?

Here's another write-up from Austin360, which is the online arm of the local newspaper. In a nutshell, he was heckled, but the theater didn't eject the hecklers because he was engaging them, and the resulting show was disjointed and uncomfortable for the others in the audience.
posted by donajo at 6:13 AM on June 26, 2012


You can't do something as brilliant as the Chapelle show and then regress into doing what you were doing before the Chapelle show.

But the show is different from stand-up. Yes, they both spring from Chappelle's worldview, but if you go to a Chappelle stand-up appearance expecting Ashy Larry, Charlie Murphy and the Robot Guy to do skits, you're an idiot and deserve to be disappointed.
posted by Etrigan at 6:30 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, reading the Austin360 piece, he's been killing nationwide - he had just come from a similar gig in Dallas where the audience was over the moon - but he had a bad night in a venue with a weird audience mood. It happens, even to big name comedians. The Culturemap piece and the framing of the post indicate Chapelle lost his mojo, and society or somesuch bullshit was to blame.

No, the takeaway is that Chapelle is otherwise doing great, live performances cary risk and not every show is a good show.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:32 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unfunny comics get heckled. That's basically the way it works.

Louis CK is unfunny? Dave Chappelle is unfunny? Jerry Seinfeld is unfunny? Paul F Tompkins is unfunny? Patton Oswalt is unfunny? George Carlin was unfunny? They've all been heckled.

This is a specious (at best) point you're trying to make. Hecklers don't heckle because of the perceived quality of the comedy; they heckle because the comic has created a genial atmosphere, a few folks get into it (and more than often a little drunk), and then they want to shift attention to themselves. I've been to comedy shows of all stripes and I can tell you, when it is NOT a funny show, people get quiet. Unless they're attention-seeking assholes.

There is no excuse for heckling except that the heckler is being a jerk.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:52 AM on June 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


If anyone is interested in what performers think about hecklers, I just saw the documentary Heckler, which was pretty good. I think it was on Netflix streaming. I got the impression that hecklers are pretty much universally despised (which I don't have a problem with) but then goes on to put critics in the same class as hecklers, which is a bit of a stretch, even for lazy reviewers who engage in personal attacks rather than review the film.
posted by TedW at 7:18 AM on June 26, 2012


I love Dave Chapelle. He doesn't have to do bits, I love his "existential" side. I watched his Inside the Actor's Studio interview and he is really someone I could listen to for awhile. He's a very interesting person.

He doesn't owe anybody anything. He doesn't need a paycheck from a comedy club to continue his life in Ohio with his wife and daughters. He could have told everyone to eff off. He's been doing standup since he was a teenager and there's something really interesting about just hearing him talk about stuff.
posted by discopolo at 7:31 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


They’re not fans. They’re not respectful. They don’t care that they ruined the night for everyone else. They just wanted to be heard.

This. I'm not a big live comedy fan, but I see this time and time again at music shows. People talking and texting. People recording the whole thing on their phones. People yelling requests and trying to get the band's attention. Going to see live music used to be a regular, joyful part of my life but now every time we go out I get a knot in my stomach as I try to guess who the assholes are and position myself away from them as much as possible.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:54 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of a Neil Young acoustic show I saw in Nashville in the late 90s. Before Neil came onstage an announcement was made that the set list had been already made and that song requests would not be taken. What happened? During the whole show fucking jackwads were yelling out songs, yelling, "We love you, Neil!" and clapping loudly thirty seconds into a song when they recognized it.

You know, just fucking sit there and listen for once.
posted by zzazazz at 8:30 AM on June 26, 2012


Jerry Seinfeld is unfunny?

Seinfeld's stand-up bits were my least favourite parts of the show. Maybe because they were endlessly copied and parodied before I got to see the original, I'm not sure. Louis Schaffer, who I think is fairly established now, played a gig in Edinburgh years ago that went down so badly that he was reduced to shouting 'MY WIFE IS SCOTTISH' to the audience. (I didn't see it, but then-boyfriend did, and it achieved meme status for us.)

I don't know Chapelle, but I used to go to a lot of open-mic when I was a student during which there would be a 'main' comedian, someone who was well-known locally, testing new stuff or starting out (I saw Howard Reid and Johnny Vegas there). Every night without fail there would be a hen party or a work party which didn;'t understand that in a comedy club one has to shut up while the guy on the stage is talking. They employed very large, intimidating bouncers.

There was a Dara O'Briain show that was shot for DVD and during the show he makes fun of a teenager in the audience (sat with his family) recording the show on his phone. 'It's going to be on DVD! It'll look better!' If I was with my parents or friends they'd be mortified, but the kid kept on recording.
posted by mippy at 8:31 AM on June 26, 2012


I meant Lewis Schaffer. Dammit. Anyway, he's an American who came over here to make it work so 'established' is relative.
posted by mippy at 8:32 AM on June 26, 2012


Unfunny comics get heckled. That's basically the way it works.

This is really not how it works.

Unfunny comics aren't the only ones who get heckled. Funny comics also get heckled. In fact, as this article clearly noted, an incredibly funny and popular comic got heckled because that is actually a thing noted in a famous Patton Oswalt bit about hecklers- there is a subset of audience members who are any combination of drunk, stupid or devoid of social skills to understand that you are not obligated to shout loudly or believe that you have a thought or opinion SO CLEVER that it must be directed at the performer.

I work at an improv theatre, and so in most cases the work being performed is made up right on the spot, and we get hecklers. And when we get them, part of my job is often to shine a flashlight on them and tell them to shut the fuck up because they are ruining the experience for other people. It doesn't matter that they are making up jokes on stage--that is who the other 150 people in the audience are paying to watch. Not you, asshole.

It has nothing, NOTHING to do with how well the people on stage are performing. It has to do with the heckler being a dick.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:40 AM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


We live in an era of entitled entertainment....We have unprecedented access to media now and it's made us a bunch of lazy, demanding, impatient assholes who hop on the Internet and scream that it's a slap in the face or a violation of our childhood when we don't get what we want.

Theater has pretty much always been like this.
Shakespeare's audience was perhaps not as well behaved as you are. Since the play was so long, people would leave their seats and go looking for food to eat and ale to drink during the performance, or perhaps go visit with their friends. .
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:43 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seinfeld's stand-up bits were my least favourite parts of the show. Maybe because they were endlessly copied and parodied before I got to see the original, I'm not sure.

They were not as funny as his actual act.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:06 AM on June 26, 2012


Jerry Seinfeld is unfunny?

Well, a local radio station here once played an entire stand-up act of his - I think in 2000, maybe '99 - that was almost a parody of itself. It was so, so unfunny, the jokes predictable and flat, the laughter sporadic and nervous when it was there at all. I don't know, maybe he's a better writer than a stand-up comic, or maybe this particular act I heard was from like, the nadir of his career. But I did not come away from the experience with the impression that stand-up was something Seinfeld was good at (anymore).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:49 AM on June 26, 2012


Maybe it's because I went to too many concerts where they wanted to play their new songs nobody cares about rather than songs people like.

So as I understand it, a band usually goes on tour when they've released a new album, and they're touring in support of that album.

What I fail to understand is how an audience is ever supposed to hear the new music and determine whether or not they like it, if jackasses with overgrown senses of entitlement are hollering at them to play the old songs they've heard a hundred thousand times and will probably hear on the radio on the way to and from the concert.

I don't know about you, but when I pay upwards of $50 per ticket to see a band I really like, I'm not just there to hear a live version of their greatest hits. I want to hear the shit I don't get to hear on the radio. If you're there only to hear the songs you can also hear on the radio, why don't you just stay home and wait for a concert video you can fast-forward through, and stop ruining things for those of us who actually WANT to experience something new?
posted by palomar at 10:09 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The reviews of his recent London shows were pretty good, despite complaints abotu the £100 ticket price (Seinfeld the show was not prime-time here, so it seemed more jarring than, say, Ricky Gervais charging top dollar) - but Sarah Silverman, who doesn't really have a profile here except amongst comedy nerds because you have to make the effort to seek her stuff out, gor terrible notices.
posted by mippy at 10:11 AM on June 26, 2012


One thing is that there are different sorts of comedians. "Road dogs" are people who've toured for years, often in gritty or shitty venues, and are well equipped to handle hecklers. (Louis CK and Dave Chappelle certainly fit this mode.)

There are also more city, TV-oriented comics such as Sarah Silverman. Often younger, more used to hand-picked, hipper audiences who know them as famous before buying a ticket. They are used to getting more instant respect from fans, and don't have the experience to bust people down.

The thing is, the ways to bust down dumb hecklers are boring, and predictable. There's even a general exemption to the absolute rule of "do your own material," most comics think it's fine to repeat someone else's heckler put down if need be (though your own is always best, and something spontaneous from the situation best of all.)

But the thing is, now you're fighting dumb drunks instead of doing your act, and for any value of good comedian, that's a step down. Chappelle doesn't need the money. He's performing for the joy of a good show. Saying that he doesn't come to the heckler's workplace and slap the dicks out of HIS mouth, isn't going to transform the crappy show into a good show, even if the crowd roars.
posted by msalt at 11:02 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dave could have had the "hecklers" ejected, but chose not too. So essentially he gave the performance he felt like giving, based on the vibe he was getting from the crowd. Maybe some 'comedy connoisseurs' didn't like it. Oh well.

I find this whining about "entitlement culture" or whatever somewhat hilarious. Whenever people whine about other people being "entitled" to something they're actually complaining that something they think they are entitled too is being taken away. In this case, it's people who wanted to see a "standard" Chappelle set, and felt like they didn't get what they paid for when he interacted with Hecklers instead. That's just as "entitled" as anything else.

In fact I would argue they are perhaps being even more self entitled, because now they are actually the ones complaining that Dave Chappelle didn't do what they wanted to do, because apparently they think that he owes them or something.

(Even weirder is that this is all by proxy, complaints from people who weren't even there that Dave should have been more of an asshole so that the people who wrote the articles they just read would have enjoyed the show more)
posted by delmoi at 11:04 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


In fact I would argue they are perhaps being even more self entitled, because now they are actually the ones complaining that Dave Chappelle didn't do what they wanted to do, because apparently they think that he owes them or something.

So when you pay to see a comedy show and the comedian stops telling jokes and lets non-comedians bring it to a screeching, unfunny halt, you're actually worse than the hecklers for complaining that you did not get the comedy show for which you paid. That's an interesting point of view.
posted by Etrigan at 11:46 AM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


So when you pay to see a comedy show and the comedian stops telling jokes and lets non-comedians bring it to a screeching, unfunny halt, you're actually worse
I didn't say worse, I said more self entitled. And that's obviously the case. The key word here is let. As in, it was Chappelle's choice to interact with the hecklers, and go so far as to ask they not be removed. Had he wanted too, he could have had them removed.

So obviously, you feel like you're entitled to tell Chappelle what he should be doing in order to more properly entertain you, personally.

Now, obviously if you pay $50 for some tickets to a comedy show, it's probably pretty reasonable to expect it to be worth your money. That seems like a reasonable entitlement. But it's ridiculous to argue that somehow the problem is that other people felt entitled to something else, and they actually got it (i.e. the Hecklers probably enjoyed the show a lot, and it doesn't sound like they were yelling "you suck" at him)

Anyway, the problem is this idea that "entitlement" is somehow a bad thing. Pretty much every time I hear people complain about it they are complaining that someone else got something that the complainer felt like they were entitled too. It's practically axiomatically hypocritical
posted by delmoi at 2:04 PM on June 26, 2012


'Entitled' is the new 'hater.'
posted by box at 2:37 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have no idea what happened at Sarah Silverman's London show, but Jesus is Magic is just her on stage doing standup so it's not like she's new to that.
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on June 26, 2012


when people take a singular show and decide a singer/band/comedian/magician/burlesque troupe is bad or washed up or not caring or unliked or whatever, i think of all the kids are right by local h.
posted by nadawi at 2:56 PM on June 26, 2012


I have no idea what happened at Sarah Silverman's London show, but Jesus is Magic is just her on stage doing standup so it's not like she's new to that.

That linked story was from 2008, and I felt like the writer just doesn't have a taste for Silverman the way I do.
posted by mreleganza at 3:08 PM on June 26, 2012


But it's ridiculous to argue that somehow the problem is that other people felt entitled to something else, and they actually got it (i.e. the Hecklers probably enjoyed the show a lot, and it doesn't sound like they were yelling "you suck" at him)

If I go to a Mountain Goats concert and someone else in the audience decides that he's entitled to rush the stage and kick John Darnielle's ass because he doesn't start with "No Children," resulting in half of one song being played before the whole place gets emptied out by security, then it's not ridiculous to argue that the stage-rusher's entitlement doesn't outweigh mine.

When you go to a stand-up comedy show, you should not be forced to wager your ticket price on the chance that you'll end up at a heckler-fest that the venue and comedian don't squash. Especially in the case of a longtime professional comedian who knows better than to fill a 1250-seat theater and then let a few idiots ruin it for the rest of the crowd.
posted by Etrigan at 4:34 PM on June 26, 2012


you should not be forced to wager your ticket price on the chance that you'll end up at a heckler-fest that the venue and comedian don't squash.
That has nothing to do with who feels more entitled. The whole point is, some entitlements are legitimate. People are claiming that somehow "entitlement" itself is a bad thing, when in fact if the people didn't feel entitled to their money's worth when they buy a ticket, then they wouldn't be complaining.

Anyway, feel free not to go to any more of Dave Chappelle's concerts in the future. I seriously doubt he'll have much trouble selling out without you.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 PM on June 26, 2012


Without having been at the performance, I like to imagine Chappelle was working on a participatory, engaging model, meeting all, even the hecklers, with openness, with a long-term plan to develop a radically honest and dynamic act. In this imagined world, he's trying for something as out there as Gary Shandling's current explorations.
posted by zippy at 10:59 PM on June 26, 2012


I knew a guy who was in the audience at the Filmore East when Miles Davis recorded his live album there. This guy for some reason (the acid?) took offense at Miles turning his back on the audience and so made his way to the front and proceeded to yell "turn around!" at the maestro for most of the show.

Dude recounted this tale to me some 40 years later. "You really heckled Miles?" I commented incredulously. "Yes I did," he said ruefully. "I was an asshole."
posted by bonefish at 12:42 AM on June 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pretty much every time I hear people complain about [entitlement] they are complaining that someone else got something that the complainer felt like they were entitled too.

And so forth. What a weird and confusion derail. I still don't understand what you're taking issue with here. The hecklers? The people complaining about the hecklers? The people complaining about the people complaining about the hecklers?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:44 AM on June 27, 2012


I was at a Chappelle performance in Fresno in 2004 where this same sort of thing happened. He did two shows - we had tickets for the later, 10 p.m. show. It was plagued by the "I'm Rick James, bitch" people. It was awful - the crowd just would not shut up. Dave kept asking whether people would shut up or not, and said whichever they did, he'd get paid the same. He seemed like he was trying to get through to the crowd somewhat, but very much. I think we got about a third of a show before everything went to pieces. I was pissed when I found out the next day that the earlier performance had gone off without a hitch. Oh, as we were leaving, there was a big fight that may have involved some people beating up a heckler. Fresno always did keep it classy.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:57 PM on June 27, 2012


I went to an amateurs comedy evening a while ago, and a heckler completely killed it.
The guy was going pretty borderline with some self-deprecating humour, and then this heckler sitting in front started in... not trying to be funny at all, just complaining, things like "You need a therapist", basically just making everyone really, really uncomfortable.
And, once he'd said things like that, started making fun of the comedian and only laughing *at* him, it got really hard to laugh, without sounding like it was laughing at the comedian, and not-laughing made it sound like we were with the heckler. It was one of the comedians first shows, and at first he was dealing well, but then he just got more and more nervous, and trying to hide that he was upset. Kinda like that bus bullying video.

That's what I hate about hecklers. All too often, they are playground bullies.

That guy, that heckler, RUINED our evening. Without him, the guy would have been, meh, instead, it was a hideous experience, and we were talking about it the next day. I felt really bad for the comedian, and kept thinking in terms of which bits he could have maybe cut from his act, because they were a little too miserable (how he got the worst tattoo in the world, and ended up being bullied by tweenagers at a katy perry concert - which, grown man, he shouldn't have been at), but I really could believe it had all gone better on previous evenings.

I wish I could meet the heckler, just to tell him that really, walk out man.
Get a refund. Anything but be a dick, and ruin what was supposed to be a fun night out with friends.
posted by Elysum at 10:40 PM on June 27, 2012


That's what I hate about hecklers. All too often, they are playground bullies.

That guy, that heckler, RUINED our evening. Without him, the guy would have been, meh, instead, it was a hideous experience, and we were talking about it the next day. I felt really bad for the comedian, and kept thinking in terms of which bits he could have maybe cut from his act, because they were a little too miserable (how he got the worst tattoo in the world, and ended up being bullied by tweenagers at a katy perry concert - which, grown man, he shouldn't have been at), but I really could believe it had all gone better on previous evenings.


Did you or anyone else tell the heckler to shut the fuck up, that he wasn't who you came to see, and he was being an asshole? Because if nobody did, then that's why and how he did it.
posted by Legomancer at 8:21 AM on June 30, 2012


The best way to shut up a heckler is peer group pressure from the audience. 100% true.
posted by msalt at 3:36 PM on June 30, 2012


I'm not sure that my frustration with myself for not stepping in earlier came across in my earlier post.
It was one of the first times I'd come across that, I didn't know how to deal with it, and so, by the time the heckler did shut up (which he did), it was... too late. The show never recovered.
The comedian was off balance, the audience was uncomfortable.

Next time?
Next time I say something earlier, and now I now, as Legomancer and msalt pointed out, if you have a heckler, say something, and soon.
posted by Elysum at 6:23 PM on June 30, 2012


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