Only one man can spoof Prince as a basketball-playing, pancake-making fop; make milquetoast talk show host Wayne Brady seem insanely edgy ("White people love Wayne Brady because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X"); and single-handedly revive superfreak Rick James's career with a plethora of punches and the simple, unforgettable phrase, "I'm Rick James, bitch!" It's Dave Chappelle, writer, actor, and stand-up comedian best known for Chappelle's Show, his wildly successful weekly sketch series currently in its 2nd season on cable TV's Comedy Central network. Washington, D.C., native Chappelle, age 30, has made countless talk-show appearances, hosted his own HBO comedy special, and scored numerous bit parts in movies such as Con Air and The Nutty Professor. He had his first star turn 6 years ago in the stoner classic Half Baked, which he co-wrote with comedic partner in crime Neal Brennan. According to Entertainment Weekly magazine's list of the 25 Funniest Americans, Chappelle ranks as number 5 -- edged out only by Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Will Ferrell, and Larry David. Not bad for a guy who began his career delivering routines in New York City's Washington Square Park.
But Chappelle is just as much an actor as a comic. Check out the characters on his top-rated TV series, dubbed by critics as "streetwise social satire" pushing stereotypes to the limit. There's blind, black white supremacist Clayton Bigsby and cheery crack addict Tyrone Biggums. Best of all is President Black Bush, who when quizzed incessantly about our country's doings in Iraq berates a reporter for trying to distract the public "with things like 'the war' and skirt all the real issues: Gay people are getting married, folks!" And all the world is laughing at Dave Chappelle's hilarious stuff, bitch! -- By Nina Korman
Dave Chappelle appears at the Improv, 3390 Mary St, Coconut Grove, from Tuesday, May 4, through Thursday, May 6. Shows take place at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $38 and $43 (plus a 2-drink minimum) and can only be purchased on the Internet. See www.improvmiami.com. Call 305-441-8200.
Agitating aesthetics, live
Not many art groups have an emergency budget for bail. But then again, most galleries are too busy spoon-feeding patrons the standard fare, burping them gently, wiping their asses, and kindly sending them on their way with their bellies full of wine and, er, cheese. Not the untamed folk who put together the art assault of "THRESHOLD: Postscripts From a Place No More," featuring Jasmine Kastel (below) and her interactive "Miss Identity Crisis Pageant" performance/reality show. Accompanying Kastel's crotch-wig runway act on the piano (or not) is Billy Ray, said to have played with the likes of Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughn, and Mel Torme. Ray, a seasoned jazzman, will take requests, lead sing-alongs, and generally spout tales of his own device. You might also catch Jandel Czombel, a.k.a. the "Tourette's Poet," spewing a stream of obscene consciousness, with the aid of a megaphone for the hearing-impaired. And naturally there's experimental sound artist Juraj Kojs and the bountiful Trailer Trash Buffet. It all starts at 9:00 p.m. at PS 742, 1165 SW 6th St. Cost is $7.42. Call 305-324-0585. -- By John Anderson
Apartheid drama cuts deep
South African playwright Athol Fugard is said to have based one of his greatest works on a childhood incident. Master Harold ... and the boys at the GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel (1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables) is the story of a privileged white South African youth and 2 of his family's black workers, Sam and Willie (below from left: John Bixler, Rodney Gardiner, and Paul Bodie). The 1982 play is an emotionally charged and at times exasperating portrayal of race relations shortly after the implementation of apartheid in the late '40s. Berated by his alcoholic father, Master Harold has come to rely on Sam as a paternal figure. However, with the unwanted return of his real father, Harold turns on his beloved mentor. Performances run through May 23rd. Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. (except no 7:00 p.m. show on May 9). Tickets cost $35. Call 305-445-1119 or visit www.gablestage.org. -- By Margaret Griffis
"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government." That is Monty Python's opinion when nymphs emerge from lakes to take over the world. But the Cedar Lake Ensemble espouses a different point of view. Its "goddess" emerges from a lake and leads her divine beings to encounter the world of mankind. From Venus on a half-shell to King Arthur's watery babe, man has always loved a goddess. Cedar Lake, a nascent New York City dance company, has been hailed for its visual spectacles and theatrics. The troupe immerses audiences in movement and fantasy, through pieces such as Drop of a Tear I and Emotions. Included in the program is "Tenacity," a work by Miami's own Angel Fraser-Logan. Combining theater, music, dance, and multimedia, CDE performs its Miami debut tonight and Saturday, May 1, at 8:00 p.m. at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St. Tickets range from $20 to $33. Call 305-372-0925. -- By Anne Tschida