1h 5min, Comedy TV Special
Now Streaming on Netflix
Like many people, Dave Chappelle first became a blip on my radar with his mega-hot “Chappelle’s Show” (2003-2006). I’ll never forget the day. I was in film school in Los Angeles and a fellow classmate, Doug (last name withheld to protect the innocent), invited us over to his apartment to brainstorm our weekly student movie project. As new film students, scripting good ideas seemed like a futile exercise, so Doug broke the writers block by declaring “I have something to show you.” He then went on to show me the (now) legendary Chappelle’s Show “Charlie Murphy True Hollywood Stories” skit that involved Murphy and his younger brother Eddie coming across Prince in a nightclub in the 1980’s. Somehow they end up playing basketball against each other all night with Prince, dressed to the nines in his typical purple blouse, obliterating Murphy and his crew on the court. It’s one of the funniest six minutes I’ve ever seen.
So its appropriate that Dave Chappelle open his brilliant new special, “Dave Chappelle: Sticks and Stones,” by quoting one of Prince Rogers Nelson’s most famous songs:
I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin’, could’ve sworn it was judgment day
The sky was all purple, there were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ to run from the destruction, you know I didn’t even care.
Chappelle uses the lyrics not only as a nod to the Purple One, but also as an indictment on the current celebrity hunting season that permeates our culture these days. From there, the comedian tackles the #MeToo movement, racism, the LQBTQ community, politics and his childhood. There’s few that won’t be offended in this tight hour, and that’s just the way Dave likes it.
Chappelle has already caught a bit of controversy over the set, but that’s to be expected these days where the pubic is looking for an apology around every corner, even with stand up comedians. Dave Chappelle comes from the stand-up school where you don’t apologize for jokes. As he says about half way through the material, “You’re the one that clicked on my face!” (when choosing to watch his special).
“Sticks and Stones” might be Chappelle’s tightest set, tempo wise. He jumps right in and moves along at a brisk and controlled pace. There’s isn’t much fat and he ties up material quickly and effectively when he’s ready to move along to other material. It’s biting, irreverent, smart and very funny. It might piss off a few people, but as he declares in the last ten minutes: “If you’re in a group that I made fun of, then just know that I only make fun of you if I see myself in you.”