This year on the University of Michigan campus, April Fool’s week brings with it several attention-grabbing, politically significant events: U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in the University admissions cases, the annual Hash Bash and … live stand-up by Dave Chappelle?
That’s right. The star and creator of “Half Baked” and the hit Comedy Central series “Chappelle’s Show” brings his racially-charged, drug culture-inspired comedy to the Michigan Theater this Saturday – the very day of Hash Bash. With controversy over affirmative action and support for the decriminalization of marijuana raging in Ann Arbor, Dave Chappelle should have no trouble tying his trademark streetwise comedy to the pressing issues on the minds of Michigan students.
“If you get the opportunity to make a statement in your career, that’s gravy,” says Chappelle. “But I don’t look to that as my ultimate, end all, be all goal. I am not the cat that you should be getting your moral and spiritual guidance from. I’m a comedian.”
Although Chappelle adheres to a strictly “funny first” philosophy, he is definitely not afraid of taking on sensitive topics. He has received plenty of flak for the surprisingly regular use of the word “nigger” on “Chappelle’s Show,” which is understandable, he admits.
“They’re free to criticize it,” says Chappelle. “I understand it could be painful to some people. It doesn’t have the same connotation to me. The thing about the ‘N’ word is that I don’t think the word itself is offensive as much as the malice that’s associated with (it), like the hatred it embodies. As far as people who criticize it, I’m not going to blast my critics. They have every right to. I don’t hate them for that.”
In response to comments suggesting that “Chappelle’s Show” is “racially heavy,” Dave offers a reminder that the show is a collaboration between himself and “Half Baked” co-writer Neil Brennan. “What (people) don’t understand is that when we’re writing the show, it’s a black dude and a white dude sitting at the typewriter together. It’s racial harmony, writing comedy to offend everybody.”
Dave has sharpened his satirical edge on a colorful array of topics over the first three months of “Chappelle’s Show.” He’s made fun of celebrity transgressions in his R. Kelly video parody “(I Wanna) Pee on You,” explored racial stereotypes with the “Ask a Black Dude” segment and celebrated the ingenuity of the desperate male in his sports documentary parody “Great Moments in Hookup History.”
In the “Blackzilla” sketch, a giant-sized Dave wreaks havoc through Tokyo, tangling with Godzilla and then emptying his bladder on the unsuspecting and visibly appalled masses. “Blackzilla” tops it all off by satisfying another urge; the sketch concludes as Chappelle straddles a volcano and, well, has his way with it.
Despite the free reign that Comedy Central has given Chappelle, some degree of censorship is inevitable on a basic cable network. On the contrary, Saturday night’s back-to-back performances by Chappelle will offer fans an opportunity to see Blackzilla completely unfettered.
Chappelle will perform Saturday night to two sold out crowds starting at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.. “Chappelle’s Show” airs Wednesday nights at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.