Dave Chappelle does Toronto
It all happened very suddenly. Last Thursday it was announced that Dave Chappelle was coming to town, on Friday tickets went on sale, and only minutes later every ticket to his three-night visit to the city was sold out. I consider myself fortunate to be among the lucky few that were able to purchase tickets, even if it was at the second last row on the balcony.
It was an unexpected way for a legend of comedy to reintroduce himself to the city. Surely when one hears Dave Chappelle is coming to Toronto they would think Air Canada Centre, not Winter Garden Theatre. But those who were fortunate enough to get their hands on one of those tickets were in for a truly rare and intimate evening with the one and only Dave Chappelle.
Though scalpers outside the theater were begging for tickets, offering upwards of $300 per $60 seat, they didn't seem to have much luck. Ticket holders knew the experience would be considerably more valuable.
The show began five days after it was announced with a local comedian named Gilson Lubin, who warmed the audience with a few GTA jokes for the home crowd, and explained how race relations will never be healed until the flavor of black licorice is changed.
Following a brief intermission, DJ Future the Prince turned the music down, and introduced the evening's main attraction. At about 9:40 Dave Chappelle emerged from behind the curtains and was greeted by a long-standing ovation from the Toronto audience, who hadn't seen him grace the city's stages in over six years.
When the applause finally died down he displayed the easy stage presence of a true veteran. Chappelle seemed at home on the stage, smoking a few cigarettes (which he was told was against city bylaws) and making small talk with the front row.
He began the show by reminiscing about his time spent in Toronto filming Half Baked, and how drastically his life has changed since, throwing in a few jokes about his awkward relationships with drug dealers.
Over the course of the evening the comedian suggested a few clues regarding his whereabouts since walking out on his highly acclaimed sketch comedy achievement, The Chappelle Show, in 2005.
He offered several possibilities, but it was difficult to tell which were real, and which were jokes. Aside from the fact that he spent a lot of time traveling, specifically in Africa, the one thing we can know for sure about his few years off the map is that he had one number in mind: 50 million. As he explained, this number had been haunting him for years. It was the dollar amount he was offered for one more season with Comedy Central.
Being on stage once again after so many years gave him the opportunity to fill the audience in on the major news event that he wasn't able to joke about during his time out of the spotlight, such as the Tiger Woods scandal, the Mel Gibson scandal, but most notably, the election of America's first black president.
He spent some time explaining the irony of his situation in 2008, finally wealthy, finally witnessing a black man become president, and then realizing that this president has made it his mission to tax the wealthy.
The third and final of Dave Chappelle's Toronto shows was last night.
Writing by Jared Lindzon. Photo by Isaac Ransom on Twitter