CANTON — Dave Chappelle provided laughter after laughter Sunday night at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium with jokes about Will Smith and Chris Rock, marriage advice to a couple seated near the stage, social issues and what he would do if elected Governor of Ohio.
An Ohio theme was a constant in his roughly hour-long stand-up routine. Chappelle still lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he spent part of his childhood.
He warmly congratulated Ohio on several occasions and warmly greeted legendary former Cleveland Browns star Jim Brown. Chappelle said Brown attended.
Chappelle drew large crowds to the venue, which has around 23,000 people for football matches but fewer for other events.
After the opening numbers, when the famous comic appeared in front of the bright lights, the stadium was largely full.
The local stop is part of the world-famous comedian’s “In Your Dreams” tour.
Cell phone use is prohibited in the performance space for a ‘real life, unplugged experience’
The event was billed as a phone-free experience. The use of cell phones was not permitted in the performance space. Attendees could secure their phones in individual Yondr pouches which were then opened at the end of the event.
Guests could also access their phones during the show in designated areas. The policy was intended to create a “real-life, unplugged experience,” according to information posted on Ticketmaster.
Anyone seen using a cell phone during the show would be escorted out of the venue by security, which happened at least once when near the end of the show a man was seen record a video.
“How do you get your phone, bro?” Chappelle asked defiantly. “…Come on, I didn’t ask for much. I love you, bro, and I hate what you did.”
Chappelle has upcoming shows in Yellow Springs and Britain
Intermittently dragging a cigarette and sipping from a red plastic cup, Chappelle, who is known for his highly successful Netflix comedy specials, humorously interspersed the names of some big stars on Sunday’s show, including the boxer at the retired Floyd Mayweather.
Chappelle burst out laughing as he joked about his time at Mayweather’s strip club in Las Vegas, while amusingly pointing out his wife’s lack of jealousy.
He spent a lot of time on the subject of actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars a few months ago.
Chappelle wavered between humor and an insightful commentary on the effect the high-profile incident had on Smith.
Chappelle, meanwhile, has sparked controversy himself, drawing backlash last year for jokes he made about the LGBT community on a Netflix show. He has referenced the controversy several times, noting that he has no beef with the group.
Last month, Chappelle changed the venue for his show to Minneapolis after the original club drew backlash for hosting him, USA Today reported.
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First Avenue, which planned to host Chappelle’s performance, announced hours before the comedian took the stage that he would be taking his show to the Varsity Theater, another Minneapolis venue, instead.
Chappelle’s upcoming shows include appearances in Yellow Springs this month. He is also due to perform with fellow comedian Chris Rock in Liverpool, Britain and at Wembley Stadium in London in September in a Taylor Hawkins tribute concert. Two shows in the Netherlands are also scheduled for next month.
The Canton show was the first time the stadium had hosted a comedian, an example of the high-profile bookings the Hall of Fame Village landed for the venue. Chappelle took the stage one night after rock band Journey headlined the Concert for Legends at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.
Governor Chappelle’s First Proposal: Outlaw the Amish
Chappelle performed in front of a video image of his brand’s logo. Video screens flanking the stage and at opposite ends of the stadium projected his every move.
Later in the show, he got more laughs suggesting he was a write-in candidate for Governor of Ohio.
“That would be the craziest (expletive) that ever happened.”
His first legislative proposal: Make it illegal to be Amish.
Chappelle said he was intrigued by the Amish’s reluctance to use modern technology. “All you want to do is make cheese,” he said to peals of laughter, which carried from those in front of the stage to the highest seats in the stadium.
“Was there ever a Black Amish? he said, smiling at his own words. “I want to join them.”
Chappelle is an acclaimed comedienne, having received the Mark Twain Award for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2019.
His work in stand-up comedy, writing, producing and acting has earned him recognition and numerous television and film nominations.
Chappelle also appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” while also receiving Emmy awards for his comedy specials. His comedy albums have received Grammy Awards. The celeb also pulled in a record number of viewers on Netflix for a comedy show.
Chappelle came under fire last year for a Netflix comedy, ‘The Closer,’ in which he tried to juxtapose the beat of civil rights won by LGBTQ people with those the black community fought for, according to USA Today. .
In May, Chappelle was attacked onstage by an audience member during his set for Netflix Is A Joke Fest in Los Angeles. The suspect was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after pointing a replica handgun containing a knife at Chappelle, the newspaper said.
Chappelle had the crowd laughing when he joked about the incident, although he also said it was “very scary”.
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At the end of Sunday’s performance, Chappelle was overwhelmed with applause.
Before leaving, he sent a message that was both serious and sentimental to the people of his country of origin, imploring them to trust each other.
“Continue to be good to each other and have courage when dealing (with each other).”
“Stay strong, stay blessed, stay aware,” Chappelle said. “Thanks a lot.”
As he left the stage, he waved to the crowd as hip-hop music blared from the PA system.
Contact Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected]
On Twitter @ebalintREP