Chappelle In Hartford

It’s the culture.

Oh, I know it was a long show. And the audience was mostly white. And that Chappelle has a history of being prickly, being nobody’s “boy.”

But that’s exactly the point. In a culture where everybody’s doing what’s expected of them, trying to climb the economic ladder, those who question and say no, who listen to themselves as opposed to everybody else, not only triumph but are excoriated.

You see that’s not how we like it. We’re playing the game, and you should too.


You know the game. Overpay for an education that’s not focused on making you a better citizen but training you for a job you can’t get. Bitching all the while that the system is stacked against you and if you can’t pay lower taxes and ensure that no one gets in line ahead of you, you’re gonna make a ruckus and vote some no-name nitwit into office to gum up the works.

And those who truly have money pay for influence. Via lobbyists. They make sure that they continue to win. If you think you can emerge victorious in America, go from the log cabin to the White House, you probably dream you can play in the NBA despite only being 5’6″.

So, since the game is unwinnable, everybody in America has decided that they are a star. Whether it be those producing music in GarageBand and spamming everybody with an e-mail address or those who make YouTube videos for the ad revenue, despite being talent-free, everybody in America thinks they’re not only equal to everybody else, but better!

You’ve got your look. Fashion is a bigger and more influential business than music. And you’ve got your piercings and tattoos, making yourself outre and unique. So when you go to the show, the concept of respecting and revering talent is completely out the window.

Forget about Chappelle. If you haven’t been brought to your knees by people talking during the performance of anybody and everybody, you’ve never left your house. People believe if they bought a ticket, they’re entitled to do whatever they want. Talk at the movies. Block your view. And if you ask them, even politely, to respect the rest of those in attendance, the blowback is deafening.

So are you surprised those who paid in Hartford considered themselves part of the show? The Governor of Arizona slights the President, do you really think some comedian is gonna get respect?

Sure, there’s a history of heckling in comedy. But this is something different. Heckling used to be by drunks in clubs. Now it’s way of life. I’m better than the person on stage. I’ve got a Facebook page!

Yup, there you have it.

But everybody is not equal, especially when it comes to the talent department. But the audience won’t believe this. Because that would mean they’re less than, and they can’t fathom it. Everybody wants to be rich and famous and nobody wants to do the work. So even if you make it to the top, you’re torn down.

If you haven’t gotten hate mail/tweets online, you don’t have an account. And I see no reason why celebrities should get their knickers in a twist about this, but what is interesting is it’s always nobodies in their underwear who perpetrate these attacks. It makes them feel powerful.

And I’m not saying that everybody who is not rich, talented and beautiful should just STFU, but I am saying we pay to see these people because they’ve demonstrated that they are better than us at certain skills. And the only way the culture of respect is gonna grow is if the performers themselves take a stand.

It can’t be about money. Don’t photograph me so I can sell photos myself!

But it can be about the raw performance/experience.

Now I’m not saying I see tweeting and e-mailing disappearing from shows. But I will say before all this technology entered the venue the experience was completely different. Maybe cell signals should be banned at arenas.

Nah, that’ll never happen.

But if artists are truly leaders, they’re the only ones who can change behavior.

We’ve seen musical artists quit performing to stop fights in the audience… By refusing to do his act, on demand, for this unruly crowd, Dave Chappelle took a stand for the artistic community and the arts themselves.

Meanwhile, all you’ve got is the click-hungry media saying otherwise. But these reporters are part of the problem. They too want to be famous. Remember Judith Miller?

So yes, we can comb the history of Chappelle and we can see his “performance” was not completely out of character.

But I will say my greatest live experiences were never about the people I went with, or the stories I told afterward, but the bond between performer and myself, the sheer electricity of the connection. That’s what it’s all about, not being at some big party where the artist is incidental.

So Dave Chappelle is a beacon. But I’ve yet to see another artist stand up for him. You know artists, they’re sheep. They’re afraid to lead. They must make sure they’re part of a team before they take a stand, and it absolutely positively cannot risk their relationship with their audience or their pocketbook.

Which is why art is in such sad shape these days.

Used to be artists were willing to live on the edge and test limits. We followed them because of who they were and what they said, not because of what they wore and how rich they had become.

If selling out to Samsung is the height of artistic success, count me out.

And I’m not selling out to Apple either.

Not a single faceless corporation where the CEO gets overpaid and is then squeezed out while the products fade away.

Used your 2001 Nokia cell phone recently?

How about that Sony CRT?

But great music lasts forever, people are still listening to the Beatles and the Stones and Stevie Wonder and…

Play for tomorrow, not for today.

And if you’re in the arts for the money, you’ve got your head up your rear end.

You’re in the arts to exact change, to make a difference. To take people on a journey wherein they not only enjoy themselves, but question themselves too.

Where was the questioning in Hartford? You had a boorish audience which wanted its expectations fulfilled. More than a challenging good time, they wanted to go home and tell everybody they were there, the same way the super-rich brag about their private jets and exotic vacations and upfront and personal overpriced scalper tickets at the gig.

Come on people, LET HIM DO HIS ACT!

P.S. I don’t need to analyze the video footage like the Zapruder film to know I’m right. There’s a vibe at a show that can never be captured on tape. Otherwise, we’d all watch concerts at home.

P.P.S. Evidence of the above is the tweet by Mack Mama, who gave Chappelle her book, which he read ironically: “Show was the best He read an excerpt of my book on stage in front of 8000 people Free Plug from my fav comedian.”

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