Dave Chappelle in Austin TX 2012

Dave Chappelle Austin Review: Even The Hecklers Are Bigger In Texas.

It's understandable that Dave Chappelle doesn't want and doesn't have to play by comedy's conventional rules.

Dave Chappelle Austin performance in  2012

At midnight on June 19th Dave Chappelle informed the management of Austin’s Paramount Theater that he’d be performing 21 hours later as he passed through town on a motorcycle trip. Tickets went on sale at 9:30 in the morning and were gone within 45 minutes; snatched up by 1200 Austinites who were cool enough to have the inside scoop and lucky enough to get through on the phone or online.

His DJ opened the show for 90 grueling minutes and the first act up warned the crowd twice that they’d be kicked out for heckling Dave. He walked into the nearly 100 year old theater and announced that it looked just like the Apollo except that it was packed with white people. The crowd roared. Things looked promising. Instantly his cell phone rang and people encouraged him to answer the call. He said no, it was one of his gangster friends and he wasn’t going to have a gangster conversation in front of everyone. Someone shouted for him to send a text and Dave quipped, “Gangsters don’t text.” The crowd went wild.

Ten minutes into the show he called out a guy in the front for recording the show on his iPhone 4s. Dave took the phone away from him to thunderous applause. He chatted with Siri as they laughed hysterically. Security came to escort the guy away and Dave said, “No, don’t kick him out. They won’t kick him out. I’ve got some pull. We’ll get him back in here. He won’t miss anything; I’ve only got four minutes of material.”

It wasn’t far from the truth.

It’s understandable that Dave Chappelle doesn’t want and doesn’t have to play by comedy’s conventional rules: write some new material and take it on tour. He reasoned: “I could sit down and write material like Kevin Hart. I could do that but then one of you is going to YouTube it and then what? Nobody wants to come to the show. When was the last time you bought a bootlegged Kevin Hart tape?”

He showed up in Austin with less than 30 minutes of jokes, likely thinking he’d get enough from the crowd to improv his way through the rest of the night. His mistake was in coming to a town that’s been on the Coolest Places To Live lists for ten years too long. 2% of the crowd was hellbent on ruining the show for everyone else with their requests, outbursts, insults, shout-outs to Texas pride, and random pig squeals. Dave’s long pauses, water breaks, and cigarette drags caused him to lose control of the audience fifteen minutes into the night and he never got them back. The 2% had taken over.

“This crowd is letting me know that I need to make another movie so you can get some fresh heckles,” he said. “You’re heckling me with 1997 dialogue.”

The problem with Dave’s work is that it transcended his original fan base so much that when he comes to Texas, rednecks and obnoxious hipsters snatch up tickets just so that they can say they saw Dave Chappelle once in their lives. They’re not fans. They’re not respectful. They don’t care that they ruined the night for everyone else. They just wanted to be heard, and Dave didn’t smack them around the way Joe Rogan or Bill Burr would have. He could have; he just chose not to. He was just there to collect a paycheck and ride on out of town.

As he closed the show he went back to the man whose cell phone he’d taken away and said, “I should have let you record the whole thing. Then you could play it back for me and tell me where it all went wrong.”

Dave Chappelle Austin Ticket

Dave Chappelle in Austin TX 2012

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  • No

    Great review of a terrible show. Worst $60 ever spent.

  • I was about 8 seats away from you and had a similar sentiment… http://www.rossclurman.com/blog/2012/06/20/regarding-dave-chappelles-composure/

  • Daniellewis3

    Very disappointing show! Dave made it perry clear that he went on stage just to get paid, not to make us laugh! 

  • Guest

    @daniellewis3-You must have been one of the hecklers. It wasn’t Dave that ruined the night for everyone. It was the moronic hecklers.

  • Lanacotraficante

    i actually had a great time and laughed a lot. good for dave. people like to moan, but dave showed austin a fun few hours. also, the DJing wasn’t ‘grueling’ — thank goodness i got to hear hip hop FOR ONCE in this honky town. 

  • Nocks

    I had a pretty good time at the show. The heckling was embarrassing, but Dave rolled with it. He had at least 30-45 minutes of prepared material that he delivered during the show, and when he was running with a joke the audience would shut up. Dave seemed to realize this too, he did say that “This show made me realize I gotta get my game tight.”

    The heckling wasn’t mean-spirited, for the most part. It was just drunk people yelling things. Dave needed a respectful theater audience who who grant him some extended silences, but he wasn’t getting it. I wish that the audience would have shut up, but what can you do? Just do what Dave did and laugh at the whole situation, I guess.

  • DJ Billy Biscuits

    I had a good time at the show. The opener was a riot. Dude had me in tears. The hecklers were wack but Dave turned all of there attention whoring tactics into jokes (i.e. the cigarette bitch). That mess was hilarious when he told her to close her eyes and he’d hold the cig. I got hella respect for him being so quick on his feet without having to go h.a.m on every audience member that spoke up. You could tell he’s working on new material but he had some to tell if folks stopped interrupting right when he got into the joke. He got a chance to perform some of it in Dallas the night before because they were a little more respectful. Watch his old comedy and you’ll notice he always does those pauses. I’m sure he’s getting his thoughts together or doing it for comedic effect to keep the crowd wondering whats next. Austinites were embarrassing to say the least last night. He may not have had a whole show worth of material but they didn’t even show him the courtesy to get through the stuff he had. He may have done a free-for-all at the end. We’ll never know now because dumbasses were too busy making pig noises, and screaming, “Dave Chappelle’s in the house” or old Half Baked references. If that’s what you wanna do, you should’ve stayed home, ate your shrooms, and screamed at old comedy central specials of his stand up. Don’t come to a show and ruin the shit for everybody thinking you’re funnier than A FUCKIN HEADLINER FOR A COMEDY SHOW! I take it back, those were assholes Dave, not Austinites. We appreciate what you’ve done for comedy and hope last night doesn’t deter you from coming back to the ATX. 

  • Most accurate comment I’ve heard about Austin all week –> His mistake was in coming to a town that’s been on the Coolest Places To Live lists for ten years too long

  • I couldn’t have said it better myself! 

  • Scott

    I was there fifth row. Much respect for Dave. If I would of been packing it would of been a better night for comedy. A fewer hipster drunk wannabes 

  • guest

    Shut the hell up Daniellewis3, it has never been about money with Dave. The show was dissapointing because of those Austin shitheads.

  • Hexag1

    wait, why are rednecks buying tickets to his shows?

  • Randall

    Austin is Texas’ badge of shame. We have a love-hate relationship with Austin. Their behavior exemplifies what Austin has become.