Although I grew up a TV junkie and still watch a fair amount today, it’s rare anymore that a new show really gets me excited. Until recently, it was only Iron Chef and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy that I made a particular point of watching. But I started hearing from a friend or two about Chapelle’s Show, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t the funniest show I’ve seen in a long time.
Dave Chappelle has an in-your-face attitude about racial issues, but the show is never burdened by any kind of social agenda. He simply knows the more controversial a subject may be, the more opportunity there is for comedy. One skit this season, for example, was presented like a 1950s sitcom and shot in black and white, and the premise was a white family with the last name Niggar. Of course there was a stream of gags, but underneath was some brilliant commentary about hypocrisy. But Chapelle is just as likely to poke fun at African Americans. There’s a continuing series called “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong” that provides plenty of proof.
At the same time, it would be unfair to Dave Chapelle to only talk about his show in the context of race. He’s poked fun at Internet spam, Rick James, George Bush and countless others along the way. One of my personal favorites is the fake ad for Samuel Jackson beer, with Chapelle dressed up like Samuel Adams but yelling "Mmm, MMM, Bitch!"
So what will happen with Chapelle in the years ahead? He’s charismatic onscreen and could probably score some high-paying movie roles with big exposure. But clearly writing is among his strongest talents. I'd hate for him to abandon it in favor of some terrible movie, like so many of his peers do. And it's not a given Dave Chapelle can write a good feature-length script himself. So often people show a great talent for sketch comedy but feel compelled to graduate from that to something else if it’s a success. Just once I’d love to see a comedian like Chapelle just stick with what he does best.
Regardless, be sure to check out Chapelle’s Show if you haven’t already.