Dave Chappelle is notorious for not giving many on-camera interviews—in fact, his last one was way back in August 2011, with San Francisco radio station Wild 94.9—so this is kind of a big deal. While in Minneapolis to perform at the First Avenue nightclub and the Pantages Theatre, Chappelle took some time to sit one-on-one with his old friend Reg Chapman at local station WCCO-4, and talk about his comedy tour, his realtionship with the city of Minneapolis, and what really went down at his ill-fated show in Hartford. Some highlights:
Chapman: One thing people who’ve seen your shows have said is that it’s incredible, you’re killing them. That it’s so intimate, that you’re having conversations with the crowd. … How do you do it here? To make it feel like it’s so special and you’re just talking to them?
Chappelle: You know, it’s interesting, Reg. Earlier this summer I did like a larger tour. And that was fine. I had the one mishap in Hartford that was in the press but for the most part, everything was great. But I prefer the smaller venues for that very reason. Because you can kind of experience the crowd more, they can experience you more. I’ve always kind of preferred having it in smaller venues. I have friends who are comedians that are good at doing, you know, rock star-sized venues and they have the kind of act for it. But I like when you use the word intimate because I feel like that’s kind of what, ideally, it should be. I know this is not a very funny interview but I’m hilarious, you’re just going to have to take my word for it.
Chapman: I have to ask — you’re swoll. Some people were like, ‘Look at the new Dave.’ What are you doing?
Chappelle: Just getting my rest. Being like married for a long time, stuff like that. I go to the gym. While I’ve been touring, I have not been going to the gym that much, tho. As a matter of fact, I am coming out with a workout tape very soon. Alright Reg, I’m lying I made that up. I’m not coming out with a workout tape.
Chapman: Make sure I get one of those. I need to work out.
Chappelle: Forty-five day abs.
Chapman: Is that what it’s called?
Chapman: Are you ever coming back to TV?
Chappelle: Well, I’m here now. And yes, I’m in talks for a new television show. … That’s a lie, too. First I’m going to do my exercise tape. No. I’m not going to say that I’m never going to do it because then I’d probably have to do it. And I’m not going to say I’m gonna do it because then for some reason, I probably couldn’t. I don’t know why but you’re never supposed to say what your intentions are.
Chapman: So it’s a big mystery.
Chappelle: To even myself. There’s no telling what I might do. You know. Hopefully, you will not have seen the last of me but I’m not making any outlandish declarations here on CBS.
As for what went down in Hartford: Chappelle doesn't have much to say about the specifics, but he does give an interesting answer about how social media has changed the way comedians have to perform, and how the attention spans of the audiences have grown shorter in recent years—and there's also a great reference to the Denzel Washington movie Flight in there. (The performance he's referring to, if you're not familiar, is the one from this past August when he walked off stage after audience members heckled him.)
Chapman: Really? … OK, you say the crowds in Minneapolis have been one of the greatest. What’s the difference between a Minneapolis crowd and a Hartford crowd? What happened in Hartford?
Chappelle: Well I’ll tell you what they do here that they didn’t do in Hartford … Listen. You know, they talked over me. Honestly, the crowd was … I don’t know what happened in Hartford, to be honest. It was like the movie, “Flight” when the flight took off and then after a couple of minutes, Denzel was like, ‘Nope, not going to land this baby. It’s not going to be like one of those days. We’re going down.’ It’s just that show. And it happens, you know. I mean, at this stage of the game, if it happens, it’s very public. Audiences have a different attention span than they did six or seven years ago because of the internet and a lot of things, you know. And I dunno, it was just one of those nights. Sorry I don’t have a better, more comprehensible explanation. But it’s one of those experiences that if you go through it, you just don’t think about it that much. I tell jokes about it. That’s useful but for the most part it’s like … I hear the mayor got pissed at me for my comments.
You can check out one snippet of the interview above, and a second one below.