They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. That was certainly true for Dave Chappelle last night, who opened his two-night, four-show series of Miami performances to a hyped-up, sold-out crowd at The Fillmore. As we overheard one fan say, "I never thought I'd see him live in my lifetime."
It was hard to know what to expect from Chappelle in the year 2013. Seven years ago, in the middle of creating the third season of the TV series that made him a wildly popular comedian, Chappelle quit, disappeared to South Africa, and cut ties with his TV network and some longtime collaborators. The stigma of that period -- was he having a breakdown? Was he just an asshole? Both? -- has followed his career into the present.
It's a testament to the quality of comedy he produced back in the early- to mid-2000s that so many fans still want to see him live. And they packed the place last night, even as bouncers and a live DJ on stage reminded them to "follow the rules," which were extra strict, even for a comedy show: no heckling, no photos, no taking out your cellphone for any reason whatsoever, at all, period, or you'd be removed. Even press review access was restricted, which is why there are no photos from last night to accompany this post; New Times snagged a pair of tickets on the sly. What, was Chappelle going to have a meltdown on stage if he saw a camera flash go off?