Dave Chappelle has been in the business of comedy for a long time; maybe longer than people realize. His career in Hollywood dates back to 1982, before I was even born. Before Half Baked, which is where most people remember him from, he made a number of TV and movie appearances including the show Home Improvement and the the movie Robin Hood: Men In Tights, as well as a number of things most people (including myself) have never heard of.
Point is, he’s been around for a while. He’s not an overnight success. He worked really hard for a long time to get to get the Chappelle show which catapulted him to fame. People have criticized things he’s done like going to Africa, but we’re not him and we also don’t know how we’d deal with fame. So what I’m saying is he knows what he’s doing. Comedians don’t come to fame by accident. Even if you don’t think a comedian is funny, chances are he/she is doing well because a ton of other people disagree with you. The road to becoming a successful comic is not an easy one. Dave Chappelle is funny, and worked hard at getting people to notice that. That being said, you would think after everything, after the Chappelle Show and his hilarious stand-up specials, that he would be respected as a performer. Because above all, that’s what not heckling a comedian is about…respect.
You would think that he could do a show and basically say anything he wants to and people would eat it up, but no. He can’t even get through the first five minutes of one of the first few shows on his comeback tour without people yelling quotes from his past works. In Hartford Connnecticut, the audience would not shut-up after numerous warnings from Chappelle. As a result he did little of his act and got offstage as soon as he contractually could. This is also not the first time Dave Chappelle has had problems with and audience Why is that?
People like Jerry Seinfeld, or Louie C.K. don’t have things like this happen to them. They do shows and people applause and hang on every word. Is the difference that Chappelle is black and that the audience in Hartford was mostly white? I sure as hell hope not.
Many people think that stand-up comedy is just easy and just something people can do because they are funny. Being funny helps, but comedians spend hours and hours and many nights writing and performing, and rewriting, and performing until something is perfect. This is hard work; work that most comedians probably enjoy, but still hard work none the less. Comedic peformances are not just brilliant on a whim. I hate to break it to people, but they are carefully planned. Yes a good comedian can come up with stuff on the spot, but that is just a small part of what doing stand-up is.
Again we go back to respect. I personally thing that alot of hecklers are looking for attention. Then get on stage yourself, otherwise, shut-up. I’m sure many audience members think that yelling something at a show will illicit a funny response and that they are helping the show. Sometimes this does happen, but heckling or yelling at a comic never helps a show. Although if a comic is talking to you, you should respond. It’s really annoying when someone is yelling from the audience but then too chicken-shit to be addressed directly by the comic. Point is, comics deserve respect. Stand-up comedy IS an ART FORM, and when you yell something out that was unsolicited at a comedy show you are basically saying “fuck you and what you do” to the comic. Even if it’s not something mean-spirited, it’s still disrespectful and rude. Even if you are just yelling “Yeah!” after a joke, it is still an insult. Comedians bare there soul for the whole world to see and hecklers shit on that.
I have only been doing comedy for five years, only a fraction of the time Chappelle has been doing it, yet there are times when I want to tell everyone they suck and just sit there and read a book and then walk offstage. The difference is that I expect things like this because I’m trying to make my way up. I play shitty bars, and basements and parking lots and wherever will let me tell jokes. I’m not in a sold out theater on a tour going around the country. Hecklers piss me off now but I know I have to deal with it because I am where I am and I should have to deal with it. I couldn’t imagine doing this for thirty years and having my own sketch show which gets me legions of fans, and then going on tour and having to deal with some fucking frat boy or former frat boy that had a few two many beers and can’t stop saying he’s Rick James, bitch. I’d walk offstage too.