Fighting back against the drunken disrespect of white audience members at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut on Thursday night, legendary comedian Dave Chappelle walked off stage in the middle of a highly-anticipated “come-back” performance.
Chappelle is currently headlining the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Tour. According to various eye-witness reports that exploded across Twitter last night, the comedian was heckled and jeered by the rowdy audience who didn’t appreciate his laid-back style and called for him to do some of his colorful characters from his genius Comedy Central show, Chappelle’s Show.
Chappelle told a few jokes about Richard Pryor, read from an audience member’s book and told the crowd how they were ruining his performance and he would be forced “to hear about this for months.” Expressing his disbelief that the crowd had yelled at him for 25 minutes, Chappelle mocked the audience and told them that they were booing themselves.
The crowd was so disrespectful and loud that the Oddball Tour tweeted during his performance for them to be quiet:
Writing for Ebony.com, eye-witness Lesli-Ann Lewis comes to the comedian’s defense in the face of the expected sensationalized headlines that claim Chappelle had a meltdown:
Chappelle wasn’t having a meltdown. This was a Black artist shrugging the weight of White consumption, deciding when enough was enough. This isn’t the first time Chappelle has done so and it isn’t the first time his behavior has been characterized as a meltdown.
There is a long history of asking African Americans to endure racism silently; it’s characterized as grace, as strength. Chappelle’s Connecticut audience, made up of largely young white males, demanded a shuck and jive. Men who seemed to have missed the fine satire of the Chappelle show demanded he do characters who, out of the context of the show look more like more racist tropes, than mockery of America’s belief in them.
Read Lewis’ complete first-hand account at Ebony.com.
See the last 15 minutes of his performance below: