Dave Chappelle obsessives, take note. The reclusive comic genius is the subject of a new Kindle single from New York Times correspondent Jason Zinoman titled (not surprisingly) Searching For Dave Chappelle, which attempts to chronicles his moves since dramatically departing “the grid” at the height of phenomenal success with Chappelle’s Show. The important thing to note–for true Chappelle obsessives, anyway–is that the search officially ends a week from tomorrow Friday, August 23rd in Austin, Tx with the kick off of Funny Or Die’s ODDBALL Comedy festival, which Chappelle is headlining. But the ?uestion(s) remain: what’s dude been doing all this time–that is, besides lifting wights and hanging out with Ab Soul and Prodigy (see above)? And/or: what is his act like in 2o13? He’s still funny…right? Zinoman’s long-form look–and a related NYT piece titled “A Comic Quits Quitting”–attempt to answer both those questions, providing glimpses of his new stage material as he’s developed it with brief appearances in Austin; NYC comedy clubs and even San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival. Get a glimpse with the NYT excerpt below–and start driving to Texas now. Better not bring your kids, though.
Mr. Chappelle hasn’t done any interviews (aside from a radio appearance in 2011) or appeared on podcasts or talk shows. He doesn’t even have a Web site. He joined Twitter last year, then quit after 11 tweets.
But Mr. Chappelle has tiptoed back into the public eye over the last year. While he has stayed away from movies and television, he still drops in pretty often on comedy clubs and occasionally theaters, usually in surprise appearances that generate more rumors of a comeback. Beyond the Oddball Festival, Chris Rock has said Mr. Chappelle may join him on his stand-up tour next year. Since seeing him perform at the start of the year, I have noticed an increased urgency in his comedy by the summer. A show I saw in San Francisco in March was charismatic if chaotic: freewheeling, improvisational and full of crowd work. But when I caught three of his shows in June down South, his act was very different: polished, thematically unified, less work in progress than test run.
His characteristic laid-back delivery and pinpoint timing were in service of jokes that were more dark, intricate and revelatory than his stand-up from a decade ago. Seeing Mr. Chappelle evolve onstage was a reminder that he didn’t leave comedy so much as return home to the live form he has practiced for a quarter-century. Mr. Chappelle might have left television, but that departure has become the wellspring of his comedy now. He only needs a microphone and a stage to lay claim to greatness.
shouts to UR