Dave Chappelle’s recent Toronto performance—a show flawed at its core
Looking back at Chappelle’s comedy evolution in comparison to his latest show on New Year’s Day.

On New Year’s Day, I had the chance to attend Dave Chappelle’s Toronto show. While the first time I saw Chappelle was less than ideal, I thought I would make a fun night out my second experience. Now, I am left questioning Chappelle’s comedy even more. 

My first introduction to Chappelle was through an interview he did on Inside The Actor’s Studio—a renowned late 90’s talk show hosted by James Lipton. In his interview, he covered “The Illuminati” in the movie industry—a topic that I researched heavily starting at age eight and into my early tweens.

I was gripped by Chappelle’s ability to orate. I saw a man who had an effortless yet profound way of narrating his truth. He weaved intricate stories about his life with raunchy onomatopoeias. This mix of playfulness and “realness” led me to watch to his Chappelle Show sketches, and his HBO stand-ups—Dave Chappelle: For What It’s Worth and Dave Chappelle: Killing Them Softly.

The more I watched Chappelle, I began to gain further insight into his thoughtfulness. During the 2019 Mark Twain Prize ceremony, Chappelle gave an acceptance speech with a sizable portion dedicated to his mother—a woman who, in his words, “filled him with every story of Black life” in an attempt to make a “griot” out of him. “Griot” refers to oral historians and musicians in many West African traditions. By way of his upbringing, Chappelle stood on a strong foundation, and his art had a great core that made him a good storyteller. 

I meditated on all of this as my sister and I lined up in front of Scotiabank arena. When Chappelle made his entrance onto the stage on January 31, 2022, a verse from Radiohead’s “Karma Police” looped in the background.  The lyrics “this is what you get when you mess with us” boomed from the speakers.

After some jokes about his infidelity during his marriage and bad trips on LSD, I felt like Chappelle’s show lacked a strong theme. As he told lackluster tales of his life as a rockstar comedian, I was reminded of “road comedians”—comedians who, after touring for a long time, wrote material that wasn’t too relatable to their audiences. I left the theater feeling a little disheartened. My sister and I discussed, and she said, “Rola, he doesn’t have to be deep or talk about race to be funny.”

While I agreed with my sister, I feel like my position remains the same: you don’t have to say anything of substance to be funny. Overall, I think that Chappelle’s latest Toronto show fell short—even by his own expectations. In one of his rare recent interviews, he said that he intended for the next chapter of his life to mean something more than “how hot his whip is or how cool his bitch is.” I don’t know that you have to be a preacher to be a comedian, but I know that you have to have a good core to produce a proper Chappelle set. It seemed like the show New Year’s Day was missing that core.


  1. Chappelle is a minstralisimg bigot, he recognised it himself in Quittung chappelle Show, he thought it wouldn’t be minstralising to go after other minorities I guess. he’s missing a conscience, where it should be he holds a Bank vault instead.


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