Chappelle’s Show, Season 1

If you have a lot of guy friends (as I do), it’s imperative that you watch this show (as well as Family Guy, The Simpsons, and South Park) in order to understand at least 50% of what they say. That was my goal here, to familiarize myself with this phenomenon from a few years ago. I was pleasantly surprised, needless to say.

On the surface, Chappelle’s Show was a haphazardly-assembled mishmash of random sketches and semi-cheesy stand-up intros to said sketches. But below the surface, this show worked wonders in the world of comedy and race relations.

Dave Chappelle took race jokes and spun them around on his pointer finger, and then he flipped them around and stomped on them. He made everyone feel uncomfortable about whatever racial assumptions they had ever made, to the point that the insults become funny again because they’re so absurd. And he didn’t stop there—sexual orientation, drug habits, all of these “vices,” for lack of a better term, were targets for Chappelle’s twisted logic.

It’s a shame that this show didn’t last for long—during this first season, Chappelle was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as a host, always genuinely happy to see each and every person in his tiny studio audience. But if you watch some of his later standup, you see the burnt-out, jaded, anti-entertainment industry hater that he became. His cynicism ran rampant and took over his soul, the very soul that produced such daring, irreverent, risky comedy in the first place. It’s a shame, really. I hope that one day he’ll be able to regain some of that unabashed immaturity and say what’s really on his mind, because his absurd, crazy humor is what makes him a real contributor to the comedy world. No one else could have gotten away with “New York Boobs” or “The Black White Supremacist” or “The Real Deep Impact” or any of his other crazy skits. There’s only one Dave Chappelle.