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If he hollers let him go
October 6, 2013 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Searching for Dave Chapelle ten years after he left his own show.
posted by evil otto (25 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was a good and thoughtful essay; thanks for posting it.
posted by languagehat at 1:50 PM on October 6, 2013


I enjoyed reading that. Now I'm off to read more about Dick Gregory.
posted by Harpocrates at 1:53 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was a fantastic read, thank you.
posted by flatluigi at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2013


I grew up not far from Yellow Springs, and I can confirm that it is a great little hippy town. My Mom's basically a Yellow Springer--she worked there for years and now goes for yoga at the senior center and the farmers market and stuff. It's a really small place, so everybody knows everybody else. My mom knows Dave too, although I doubt she's seen any of his comedy. I thought about mentioning YS in the cross-dressing thread the other day, as one place in America where a man could walk around in a dress and nobody would find it unusual. People really couldn't care less about what you wear, or who you are, as long as you're being a decent human being.
posted by gueneverey at 2:43 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live about an hour from Yellow Springs, and I have it on excellent authority (not just Yelp) that Chappelle can occasionally be seen at the local hippie-foodie pizza joint.

I have also heard an entirely unsubstantiated rumor that Dave once (at the height of his TV fame) spent a lazy Thursday afternoon skateboarding with a bunch of high school kids in my hometown (Hamilton, OH). This all happened during the Friendster phase of social networking, so of course there is zero evidence that this actually happened...
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:50 PM on October 6, 2013


When she said early on she couldn't get an interview with Chappelle himself, I kind of expected it to be a thin clip-job affair, but that was really worth reading.
posted by rollick at 3:29 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read it last week, and I really liked it. I agree with rollick, that I was surprised by what a great profile she was able to construct without actually speaking to the man himself.
posted by codacorolla at 3:32 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed reading that. Now I'm off to read more about Dick Gregory.

Hunter S. Thompson supported his presidential bid. HST also supported Jimmy Carter. Beyond the "weird" persona, HST was a thoughtful and compassionate person.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:38 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dave Chapelle's block party is on YouTube go watch it now.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:41 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dick Gregory's From the Back of the Bus is pretty amazing.

I also love knowing more about Dave Chappelle's family background and how his comedic work shares a lineage with his grandmother's work in the NAACP or his mother's scholarly research on Negritude.

Thanks for sharing this!
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:46 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


This was indeed a nice read, thanks.
posted by gimonca at 5:16 PM on October 6, 2013


He's an immensely talented performer but he gives me the impression that he's tired of every possible role he could play: he can play a yokel, or a racist, or a deeply cultured and educated person; but he's tired of all the roles. I wish he could find something that stretched him and that he felt good about.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:45 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yellow Springs was the cool weekend hangout when I was in college. (In a very uncool town about 45 minutes' drive away.) Me and my friends would go check out the comic store, maybe see a movie at the Little Art Theater (that's where I saw Akira the first time), and then get a pizza (and China Cola!) at Ha-Ha Pizza.

I'd love to share a Ha-Ha pizza with Dave Chapelle sometime. Even more, I'd like to meet him somewhere that reminiscing about our experiences in Yellow Springs would be appropriate.

Then, I suppose that probably makes me one of those white people who think of Dave Chapelle as our friend.
posted by jiawen at 8:42 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Between Chappelle and Watterson, Ohio seems to be slowly turning into the place where the beloved introvert geniuses of GenX go to fade away. I'm not complaining, just hoping someday I get an invitation to come to that fabled land, hang out with my heros, smoke, drink coffee, and shoot the shit.

This is also probably is where I tell the story of Chappelle coming to my college town in 2002, utterly unknown and giving a great (maybe the best I've even seen) two hour interactive comedy show, and then hanging out in the theater afterwards and chatting and talking comedy shop with anyone who was around, and then how a one year later, he came back to the same theater, when his show had become a full-scale comedy force, and he walked off in disgust after a half-hour when the crowd greeted him with a wall of "I'm Rick James, bitch!" and other throw-away catch phrases.

If he can still be the funny, thoughtful, congenial guy I knew the first time I saw him, but in a slightly smaller world, I don't blame him even slightly for falling off the grid.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:10 PM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Very good article; thanks for that. Dave Chappelle is the kind of comic I really miss. Brave, brilliant, funny. I miss him even more than the others because I keep hoping we might one day see more of him.

I recognize that in this regard, I am less than generous, quite impertinent, actually, hoping that he will return with some precious wisdom he can feed us, just drop on us, as if we are his baby birds. Richard Pryor is gone and many other "elegant black men" comedians are growing older, have retired, or moved on. We have to work a lot harder to learn without them.
posted by Anitanola at 10:21 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have to work a lot harder to learn without them.

Yes. Thanks.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:41 AM on October 7, 2013


The article refers to Chappelle's fried chicken sketch, which was generally criticised and was apparently the catalyst for his departure. He liked it, though, and I think he had good reason to; it's quite dizzyingly self-reflective.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:08 AM on October 7, 2013


evil otto -- that was a good read. Thank you for posting it here.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:20 AM on October 7, 2013


If he hollers let him go

I know you didn't title it, I know that's just the name of the article, but that is a horrible title.

You know the true origin of that nursery rhyme, right? You know what the real lyrics were, right? Hint - it's not a "tiger" they let go.

Yuck yuck yuck.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2013


Yeah, I think that's kinda the whole point of the title.
posted by dogwalker at 10:40 AM on October 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Great, great article, and the ending was the perfect capper.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:45 PM on October 7, 2013


The more I learn about most people, the less I like them. Learning more about Dave Chappelle has the exact opposite effect.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:47 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had no idea about his "broke Huxtables" background. Or about Yellow Springs. That and the talks with his mom shed a lot of light on him.
posted by ignignokt at 5:16 PM on October 7, 2013


It's not easy being black in front of white people... Reading this and then watching a bunch his show's skits on Youtube make me wish we could have a station that only black people can tune in to. And only people we invite. We have so much to work out still and it hurts sometimes to have the whole world watching.
posted by artof.mulata at 6:05 PM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


In his fantastic profile of Muhammad Ali, Hunter S. Thompson writes that “the Champ, after all, had once hurled his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River, in a fit of pique at some alleged racial insult in Louisville.” The medal was a symbol of a white world that Ali “was already learning to treat with a very calculated measure of public disrespect.” Like most people of the post–civil rights generation, I think that Chappelle, whose family had long been free, educated, leftist, and radical, had hoped that his success would not need to follow that same militant path.
This hit me so deeply, as a woman who was the other day urged to helm a feminist organization; I politely gave my excuses, but wished, deep down inside me, that people didn't assume it is my job to get angry about the shit we put up with all the time because of the gender I was born into. I don't know if Chappelle feels the way this excellent writer posits he does, but how he's reacted makes a tremendous amount of sense to me if so. Sometimes I just want to screw around and do comedy and other work and never have to think about the intricate dance of being a feminist that came before me. I want to do it in my weird way that also takes movements like negritude into account. But because such a small number of people ended up thoroughly educated by what happened in the Sixties (or any earlier or later social justice movement), it's hard to take my act out to the broader public.

We do have so much to work out still, like artof.mulata just said; all of us. Sometimes I just want to retreat to towns like Yellow Springs where I never have to deal with the people who haven't been reflecting on all this for years. Other times, though, I know the teaching I was doing last year -- to marketing students who were the children and grandchildren of white flight from New York -- is really what needs to be done, and it's my job, not Dave Chappelle's, and I actually kind of relished it even as I hated it.
posted by gusandrews at 8:00 PM on October 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


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