Chappelle has been pretty quiet since abandoning his show in 2005 and bailing to Africa, but as this here great read at the New York Times relays, he's fashioning a return to stand-up, starting this Friday with the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival. The bummer? It's not coming to the Northwest. Still, it's great to hear that he's been out there again, honing up his work for what sounds like a real-deal return:
Mr. Chappelle has always preferred ambling yarns to quick jokes, but his new material stretches the limits of stories, telling long, herky-jerky tales propelled by quick pivots in tone and perspective. An extremely patient comedian, Mr. Chappelle is now making a commitment to establishing scenes, mapping out descriptions of characters that are almost literary in their detail.
What’s changed since [Dave Chappelle's Block Party] is that his jokes now always seem to circle back to his infamous exit from Comedy Central, explicitly or, more often, implicitly. For instance, Mr. Chappelle acts out a joke that comes off like an elaborate multi-act play about how his son, following his advice, left an after-school program he didn’t like. “Son, sometimes, it’s O.K. to quit,” was the title he coined for his parental lecture.
The article also notes that Chris Rock has mentioned Chappelle may join his upcoming tour. (Dear dudes, please come to Seattle.) For a reacquaintance and rather candid look at the man, I suggest this episode of Inside the Actors Studio, in which he discusses his first open mic:
I'd been practicing with a candle in the mirror. I felt like I was ready. And I told my family I was going. I told my mom, I said 'I'm going, I don't want you to come. I want to go by myself—it's something I gotta do,' whatever. So of course she shows up, with my grandmother, and my brother.
And when he puts that emphasis on "grandmother," it's such a skilled combination of timing and delivery, you immediately understand that that's the joke (even though he's in the middle of a spontaneous conversation). The Studio seems to foreshadow that second block quote from above. If you're a fan, it's worth putting some time aside for. Get happy.