Review: Dave Chappelle keeps it loose and easy at second of 12 Tabernacle shows, hitting Trump, Cleveland, trans bathroom issues

No photos allowed at the Tabernacle shows so here’s a shot of him during the NBA All-Star Weekend 2017 at Ogden Museum Of Southern Art on February 18, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Getty Images for GQ)

This was posted Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Dave Chappelle, now 43, has been doing stand-up going back to his teen years and it shows. On the Tabernacle stage Monday night for the second of 12 shows there (plus a bonus show Tuesday with John Mayer at The Roxy Theatre at midnight), he made comedy look easy over a svelte 65-minute set.

He didn’t need to strain for laughs. The crowd rode the entire concert with almost no lulls, no dull moments. Dressed in a khaki t-shirt and shiny dark pants, Chappelle made it almost feel like he was just hangin’ with 2,500 of his closest friends, holding fort while drinking a beer and sucking on a half dozen cigarettes. (No smoking rules? Not relevant to Chappelle.)

And unlike Chris Rock at the Fox Theatre two weeks earlier, his entire show felt semi-improvised, teasing audience members in the front rows and literally taking ideas thrown out by random audience members. He did a hilarious rant off the suggestion of Tiger Woods. He hit on a woman in the front row and made her day. He accidentally thought a white man was married to a neighboring black woman and fetched him a beer. When he found out that wasn’t the case, he joked, “Take back the beers!”

It’s clear if you go to another show this week, his content will be significantly different. He clearly has plenty of material to spare.

Chappelle started the night casually, noting how he was booed in Cleveland for rooting for the Golden State Warriors. On a neutral site, he had no problems mocking LeBron James’ departure of Cleveland, noting how much the city hated him for doing so back in 2010. Yet since he’s James, when he returned, they treated him like a hero. (Chappelle lives in a small town outside of Dayton about 200 miles away.)

He said he also got booed in Cleveland when he made jokes about the recent Cleveland Facebook shooter while he was still at large. “It was like making jokes about 9/11 in New  York on 9/12!” he said. He then segued easily into the Facebook murderer getting caught at a McDonald’s and said the man was probably enticed by the infamous line, “The fries will be ready in just a few more minutes!”

Chappelle mined laughs out of Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who “identifies” as black. He had a few uncomfortable moments when making fun of trans persons, dancing a line of propriety he may or may not have crossed depending on your sensibilities.  He noted that white trangenders have a certain “white privilege,” that Bruce Jenner had an easier time changing to Caitlyn than Cassius Clay had becoming Muhammad Ali a half century ago.

While talking about the North Carolina rules regarding trans persons in bathrooms, he created a scenario where he was at a Wal-Mart in that state. Then he made it clear in his current financial wealth, he’s unlikely ever to be found now at a Wal-Mart. “Can’t get these shiny pants at a m*****f***** Wal-Mart,” he said, noting his attire.

He also posed the idea that rape jokes are not funny — unless the person raped is a dude.

Chappelle’s most insightful thought of the night about Donald Trump was that the president may lead us into a war that will kill us all or he might save us by accident. To a Trump supporter in the audience, he said, with all seriousness, “He’s clearly doing a s***** job.” He said Trump might create a backlash that will help the United States down the road similar to the way the egregious murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black teen in Mississippi, in 1955 sparked the civil rights movement.

And when he discussed the idiocy of a Muslim ban, he observed that this makes as much financial and logical sense as Chappelle banning white people from his concert. (The audience on Monday night was heavily white.)

“That would be downright catastrophic to my bottom line,” he mused. “Tonight, I would make $6,700. We all need each other!”

Most of the future Chappelle shows are sold out but feel free to check out here for availability of the next 10 shows. 

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