Dave Chappelle was the unannounced opener for the Chris Rock-Kevin Hart double bill at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Go to Radiohead’s “Karma Police” and wear a white Nirvana In utero shirt, the controversial comic came out smoking without any introduction other than his white, green and red “C” logo on the LED screen. The power crowd greeted him with warm applause and cheers whenever he brought up the topic of “cancelling culture,” a recurring theme.
“I had to sneak in here,” he began, just days after he had to move a performance in Minneapolis to another venue after the original space was reportedly met with backlash for have booked comedians.
Chappelle assured the crowd that “despite what you may have read on the news, I’m fine and I appreciate the support.” He mentioned the criticism he’s received since his Netflix special, Closerand he “gets it” but then adds, “I spent the money.”
In his 22-minute opening film, he joked about the surreal quality of being attacked while on stage at the Hollywood Bowl in early May and yelled at his bodyguards for ” wearing business shoes”, he would be safer if they didn’t “t” slide all over the place like at the bowling alley. “
He said that Chris Rock was able to get his first joke after the brawl that night (“was that Will Smith?”) and then admitted his next joke (“it was a trans guy?” ) is more than just a bombshell, it “sets up another two-day news cycle.”
His real fury appeared in the press, especially New York Post, for calling the attack “alleged” when the incident was captured on video. He also accused the newspaper of putting words into the man’s mouth, urging the man to say he was triggered by Chappelle’s material. The comic claims he knew the line was fed, because he spoke to the man backstage to himself and “all he could say was” – at which point Chappelle was make a “cuckoo” sound.
He added that he hopes his assailant with monkeypox goes to jail – “not that he should die, but his butt will itch for four to six weeks.” Chappelle also claimed the first call he received that night was from Louis CK, to whom he later shouted, “Louis, even if you get into trouble on the street, you’re still my friend. I.”
Chappelle handed the mic to Chris Rock, who had been practicing for an hour, while Rock passed the mic to Kevin Hart. Both men mentioned Will Smith a couple of times, though Rock leans towards the slightly more difficult topic of “culture cancellation.” “Anyone who says hurtful words has never been punched in the face,” is a saying that causes the whole house to collapse.
The night ended when three men appeared on stage for 10 free minutes. They bond with each other and express feelings of love and gratitude. “This doesn’t happen by accident,” Hart said.
Hart then says that he has a gift for Rock, who is 14 years older than him, and gives him a goat with a gold chain. “I don’t care about that damn thing!” Rock shouted, as the arena seemed to vibrate with laughter. When Hart candidly talks about how he considers Chris Rock the greatest of all time, Chappelle cuts in to say, “this is the worst night of this goat’s life.”
Rock beat that: “He’s just happy not at a Jamaican restaurant!”
Around this time, the goat had an accident on stage. “How was your first night in show business?” Chappelle asked, bringing the microphone to the goat’s mouth. At the goat’s lack of response, he asked “what shall we call it?”
“Will Smith!” Hart shot back.
When it was all over, Chappelle turned down the volume for a minute to thank Hart and Rock for his support. He said that comedians have a bond that only other comedians understand, and that “when my brothers called, I ran.”
The Headliners Only 5-night mini tour kicked off at Northwell Health at the Jones Beach Theater on Long Island on Thursday before heading to Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center on Friday. Sunday night, the couple headed to the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, before the show wrapped up at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Monday. Rock then continued his Ego Death tour through November 19, while Hart’s Reality Check tour ended on September 8.