Chappelle, Stewart Stay On Stage After Opening Night
(Note: I haven’t proofread yet and may write more.)
Dave Chapelle, looking fit wearing a black tank top on his fit frame, alongside a less fit and suit-less John Stewart delivered a hilarious night of stand-up at the Wang Theatre last night, but the on stage dialog about society that followed stole the show. The duo, who barred cell phones, stayed on stage for an additional 90-minutes after their acts (though who knew how long, since we couldn’t check out phones!) and shared heartfelt commentary on the state of their lives and of the Nation.
With no phones or notepads, the special serious-yet-humorous dialog after the show’s opening night will forever be an undocumented experience that only the attendees can share. That said, it was powerful to hear the words of the two successful men and should not be forgotten.
After opening with a skit on the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, they shared their personal beliefs on race, gender, wealth, political office, fame and more.
At one point early on, Stewart asked Chappelle to compare the #MeToo movement to Black Equality. Without pause, Dave said Black Equality. He suggested that the strong matriarchs in black culture were examples of strength, and begged the question of how they would have reacted to what Louis CK did and whether having those women come forward helps the #MeToo movement as much as it would if a different set of women came forward. He asked (rhetorically) if that [what happened with Louis CK] is really what the #MeToo movement should be fighting for, then launched into a bit about men instinctively protect women. As evidence he started with slave owners raping female slaves to put the male slaves in their places, before moving on to a similar scenario in Bosnia and finally citing that a driving factor in why female’s weren’t allowed on the battle field is that their cries (from injury) would distract men more than other men. He contrasted this to how men instinctively want to preserve their well being (in the context of Louis CK loosing $30M of wealth in an afternoon,) and rhetorically asked if there was a play for the #MeToo movement to grow strong from playing into these instincts instead of pitting them against each other.
Later, Chappelle gave convincing “no” and eloquently explained, when Stewart asked whether Blacks would “run it [slavery] back on Whites” when they come to power. Stating that he had experienced both, he observed that the Opioid Epidemic’s victims are mostly white and the Crack Epidemic’s victims were mostly black. He went on to point out how difficult it is to fully understand something until you experience it yourself. Chappelle then launched into the story of the heavy-weight boxing champ Jack Jackson. (If you don’t know (I didn’t) Jack Johnson was the first black heavy weight boxing champion in 1910. The day after his victory on July 5th, race riots broke out in several cities leading the killing of at least 26 blacks. Johnson was later jailed for allegedly transporting women across state lines, which is widely believed to be a racially inspired punishment for his sex life with white women.) The punchline (har-har) of the story was Stewart state that “they don’t teach that one in school!” Chappelle wrapped it with a recounting of how the police killings of two blacks in 2016 felt like “Black 9/11” to him, and that after the Dallas Police Shooting incident the same year was a huge missed opportunity for shared empathy; that everyone’s reaction should not have been one of “black or blue” but of shared empathy.
Chappelle also spoke about growing up in poverty. He told one story during his performance (not the after-show,) but brought it up again. His point was that there’s a difference between being poor and being broke, and that his father stressed that even though they didn’t have money for heat, that they were broke, not poor, because being poor is a mindset and a trap. His second story was about a grade-school dance that cost $3 which he had to pay for, in front a long line of his jeering pays, by counting out pennies one-by-one. His point was that after sulking for an hour, he didn’t go shoot everyone up and instead got over it and enjoyed himself for the remaining two hours.
They went on and on (and I may write more,) but together made the point that America will only make progress through truthful engagement not political correctness.
It was really amazing to see two successful, eloquent comics keep a crowd engaged with meaningful discourse about society and not just jokes. Good for them, and lucky us!