Thursday, August 29, 2013

Self-Serving? (Why, If That's The Case, I'll Take Two) III

This piece on Dave Chappelle sounds so familiar to TMR it almost physically hurts to read it:
Theories for why he quit abound. Some say he had a mental breakdown, others presume he suffered from being “the one righteous man in a world of corruption”, as Jason Zinoman, a comedy critic for the New York Times, writes in his e-book “Searching for Dave Chappelle”. Though Mr Chappelle has never fully explained his reasons for leaving, in interviews he has said that he worried his comedy was becoming socially irresponsible. He mentioned hearing a white TV-crew member laugh during the filming of a sketch in a way that made him uncomfortable. 
Race is an important theme in his work. When Mr Chappelle first started out, playing to racially mixed audiences in Washington, DC’s largely segregated comedy scene in the 1980s, he caught flak for “not being black enough” (a concern over racial fidelity that white artists never have to face). His TV show dealt with race frankly and often surreally: one sketch concerned a blind white supremacist who did not know he was black; another featured a “racial draft”, in which American ethnic groups “drafted” biracial or culturally hybrid celebrities (the Jews took Lenny Kravitz; the blacks took Tiger Woods; the Asians got the Wu-Tang Clan). In Austin a particularly funny (and unprintable) bit involved him hiring as his personal chef Paula Deen, a white Southern cookbook author who was recently fired from the Food Network for using racial slurs. 
It is not clear what is next for Mr Chappelle when this American tour ends in late September. Despite his long absence, he seems at home on stage. If there were fewer roll-on-the-ground laughs than the audience may have expected, there was also the sense that a restless innovator is pushing the bounds of his art.

Yep - I know the feeling: 

That's just what some of us do,...

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