Chappelle stays biting on DVD

Daily Arts Writer
Published May 22, 2005

The Chappelle Show’s first season on Comedy Central worked thanks to its vulgarity, outlandishness and sly versatility. In the first season, Chappelle was racy enough to impersonate a black, blind white supremacist and light-hearted enough to make fun of MTV’s “The Real World.” Chappelle jumped from the taboo to the mundane from skit to skit. The second season is less racially driven but equally as funny and envelope-pushing. In the second season, Chappelle veers away from controversial skits, opting for impersonations — which have become his most ubiquitous pieces — and more invasive humor. Lil’ Jon, Prince, Rick James and even President Bush all fall under Chappelle’s microscope. And yes, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” has joined the vernacular of every college student.While Chappelle still pushes the limits of racial tolerance in this season, many times it’s destructively over-the-top. Yet the racial draft is one of the funniest sketches in the entire season — the Jews “draft” Lenny Kravitz and the Japanese “draft” the Wu-Tang Clan.Another one of the season’s greatest attributes is its guest appearances. Mos Def, John Mayer, Charlie Murphy and Paul Mooney all shine in their frequent appearances. Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories and Mooney’s uproarious “Negrodamus” are fan-favorites. Lil’ Jon even makes a long-awaited cameo when he calls himself (Chappelle) and they scream “Yeah!,” “What?” and “OK” back and forth.In several instances, the season drags on because of the bizarre, socially outlandish skits and potty humor. The “first black man to use a white toilet” sketch is the worst five minutes of the season. Not only are the racial and historical slants botched, but the concept could’ve been written by a third grader. “Kneehigh Park” is another boring but racy sketch. Chappelle uses puppets of different drugs and venereal diseases to teach kids a lesson in a park. It deteriorates into an expletive-driven shock fest.When these clips and the lackluster musical performances — ranging from Erykah Badu to Wyclef Jean — fall short, the third disk’s bonus features remind everyone of Chappelle’s genius. The extra stand-up from the show — the banter with the crowd during commercial breaks — shows how witty, sharp and personable Chappelle is. The deleted scenes and bloopers also show the amount of improvisation on the aired material.

In lieu of Chappelle’s spiritual journey to Africa and the tardiness of the third season, season two has enough new material to tide fans over. The hours of bonus material are a great addition to the already fantastic season, and Chappelle’s intelligently caustic humor only makes his current absence that much less bearable.


Show: 4 out of 5 stars

Picture/Sound:4 out of 5 stars

Features: 4 out of 5 stars