SportsChump Whirlwind Comedy Tour, Part Two: Dave Chappelle

Date: Sunday, October 29, 2023

Time: 7:00 pm                                  

Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

“I got a million of ‘em,” said Dave Chappelle to a crowd of well over 20,000 adoring fans, all laughing hysterically as he told yet another one of his racy, provocative, and belly-busting jokes.  He’s been doing so for years.

Chappelle, arguably the greatest comic of his generation, he of the multi-million-dollar, multi-Netflix contract special, brought his hilarity to Tampa Bay on October 29, performing in front of a jam-packed Amalie Arena.  I’ve been to Stanley Cup Finals games in this building, and I can assure you, it was just as jammed and anticipatory for Chappelle, if not more so.

Fans piled into the Ice Palace on a Sunday evening for some expected heat, all of us wanting to see the legend, many of us for the first time.  With three opening acts set to warm up the crowd, our headliner did not disappoint.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Dave Chappelle, the once-scrawny, lanky, stand-up comedian from early HBO specials who, at the beginning of the 2000s, revolutionized sketch comedy like few individuals before him.  His Comedy Central “Chappelle Show” became must-see television long before we could demand any given programming at any given time.  Chappelle left us all talking about his latest antics the following day, about what we had just seen, and about how comedically revolutionary it was. 

Sketches like Clayton Bigsby, the blind Black White Supremacist, the Racial Draft, the Player Haters Ball, True Hollywood Stories with Rick James or a basketball-playing, pancake-baking, jump shot-making Prince, and the time he impregnated Oprah Winfrey remain among the most creative and hysterical skits comedy any of us had ever seen.  Now go purify yourselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. 

When it came time to re-up for a third season, after two full seasons of the edgiest, if not incomparable comedy around, Chappelle turned down a record offer because he no longer felt comfortable doing the show.  He traveled to Africa to begin a spiritual journey as the rest of us wondered how anyone who had reached that precipice could turn down such an offer.

Yet turn it down he did, only to emerge on the other side, racier, funnier, and far more introspective.  Years later, Chappelle would sign a deal with Netflix, earning him $20 million per comedy special and still, just as funny.

Chappelle’s latest tour was called The Lunatic’s Manifesto and has resulted in another hilarious Netflix special, already airing.  That’s what over 20,000 of us in Tampa that night paid to see.

In our continued search to find laughter once again, BCole and I were two of those many.

Upon entering the arena, fans were asked to lock their cellphones into a container that could only be opened upon leaving the arena.  No video could be taken, no pictures could be posted.  Netflix authorities made sure of that.

After two top notch opening acts, Donnell Rawlings was the third comedian to hit the stage with a DJ spinning hits and keeping the crowd warmed up in between.  Rawlings is best known for his appearances as Dave’s right-hand man on the ground-breaking Chappelle show, playing roles such as Ashy Larry and shouting “I’m rich, beyotch!” at the end of each show. Honk!  Honk!  Dave Chappelle is not going to have anyone unfunny come before him. 

The three men kept the crowd in stitches.  Anticipation built.  It was only a matter of time before we all saw the legend.

Chappelle’s comedy has always been honest.  A month or so before the show, he had come under fire for making comments about the situation in the Middle East.  There was none of that this evening although he did continue his relentless assault on the transgendered community.  Aside from that, this latest tour was far less political in nature and back to much of Chappelle’s earlier style of humor. 

He did speak at length about the incident between Chris Rock and Will Smith and provided an interesting perspective.  Chappelle toured with Rock post-Oscar slap, so he’d had plenty of open conversations about what went down.  While one might think he sided with Rock, which he did, he also explained how he understood Smith’s anger.  It was a poignant moment in the show.

Chappelle also talked openly about dreams, and how important it is to own the strongest dream in the room.  Never one to rely solely on fart jokes, although his act has and always will contain its fair share of sophomoric humor, Chappelle explained how the person with the strongest dream will be the one who dictates their future.  His dream had come true, sharing his message, becoming beloved, raising a family, and making millions laugh.

“I’m gonna miss these jokes,” he said.  As part of his upcoming Netflix special, he’ll never be able to tell them again.  We were fortunate enough to hear them live, BCole and I fulfilling our own dreams of life, love, and laughter together, despite the sorrow that had been thrown our way.  Chappelle opened his act telling of the time his father had passed, questioning whether he’d ever be able to laugh again.  I wondered what I was in for, welling up within the show’s first few minutes.  Chappelle cleverly twisted that dark time of his life into laughter.  Thank goodness for that.

As we stood outside the arena post-show, the crowd filtering out, BCole said to me as she looked into my eyes, “It was good to hear you laugh again.”

I can assure you it felt good to laugh again.  Fortunately, Dave Chappelle’s been doing that to me for years.

See: SportsChump Whirlwind Comedy Tour, Part One: Andrew Dice Clay

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5 Replies to “SportsChump Whirlwind Comedy Tour, Part Two: Dave Chappelle”

  1. He was even better than I had hoped. That was a magical evening, leaving me amazed at how much his words would remain etched in my soul. I will always appreciate Dave for giving us a night of laughter when we needed it so badly.

  2. BCole…

    That evening, we may have witnessed one of the best to ever do it.

    Hard to think of a more impactful comedian this century.

    If there are any, there can’t be many above him.

    Again, thanks for the well-needed and extremely special date night.

  3. Pingback: SportsChump Whirlwind Comedy Tour, Part Three: D.L. Hughley - Sports Chump

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