Sharp, hilarious storytelling at its finest. Dave Chappelle gave the packed house at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium Thursday night exactly what we needed: good old fashioned uncensored stand-up.
A huge fan of Dave's, I didn't hesitate to purchase tickets the minute they went on sale. Admittedly, up until the very second the show started I wondered if he would be bold Dave, unafraid to be topical. In the current climate of comedians not telling jokes, I feared Dave might be tame to placate the easily offended masses.
Then the show started. A smiling Chappelle took the stage and opened with a Bill Cosby joke. I laughed. Hard. Dave was not afraid and I should have never doubted him. An extremely insightful man, Dave went on to cover current topics from ISIS to Ray Rice. The audience was eating it up, laughing hysterically as he chain-smoked. At one point in the evening Dave mentioned his upcoming show in San Francisco and blurted out, "I hate bloggers!". The crowd erupted into laughter and applause. I paused, but only because I was worried fellow bloggers might recognize me as I nodded my head in agreement and laughed hysterically. I hate bloggers too, Dave. Sometimes.
Out of context his comment sounds means mean, but when put back into context you'll understand he was talking about a particular group of bloggers that were offended by his jokes the last time he performed in San Francisco. Immediately this group took to the internet to persecute him and label him a homophobe. In that context, I hate bloggers too.
Most recently when bloggers took to the internet to vent their deep frustrations over "50 Shades of Grey" I fought hard to bite my tongue. It is an interesting thing when the same group of people who are so vehemently defending their right to bear arms are the same group of people so desperately attempting to censor entertainment in America. I didn't engage in the FaceBook conversations or comment on the blog posts. I stayed out of it. It wasn't until I read posts by fellow bloggers who were outraged and offended by the "50 Shades of Grey" movie ad that ran during the Super Bowl that I became unglued. I still bit my tongue, but in my head I imagined myself responding, "REALLY LADY?! Why are your kids parked in front of the TV unsupervised? I am offended you expect the NFL and television networks to do your job. Also, the "TED 2" commercial had a dick joke and you didn't even notice."
But I was a good girl, and I kept that response to myself.
I grew up in the 1970's. A time when our country was a little more loose, a little more trusting and a whole lot more fun. Unlike parents now, parents in the 70s were not competing for the title of Most Politically Correct Pappa or Most Moral Mommy. On the contrary, our parents encouraged us to be open to what was happening around us - good and bad - to absorb the culture and try to learn something from it. I never once heard my strict Catholic Puerto Rican parents use the words "offensive" or "offended".
My mother took me with her to the movies all the time. It was there I first saw Richard Pryor and George Carlin in the movie "Car Wash" and Steve Martin in "The Jerk". I watched Saturday Night Live, when it was funny, religiously. I was obsessed. I wanted to grow up to be Gilda Rander and Eddie Murphy, and I had (and still have) an enormous crush on Steve Martin. Comedy was always a central source of entertainment for me. As a teen I listened to Howard Stern every morning. I watched Eddie Murphy's "Raw" and "Delirious" over and over. When Chris Rock entered the scene I was thrilled. Agree or disagree with their delivery, vocabulary or point of view, comics like George Carlin and others, are crafty intelligent and insightful people. Stand-up is a bitch. It's meant to cause you to think and laugh while you cringe...a little. It's OK to laugh at dirty joke. That doesn't make you a horrible person.
As an adult I continued to listen to Howard Stern every morning while driving my daughter to school. Following the example set by mother, I took her to see "Jackass: the Movie" when she was 5. She thought it was the most ridiculously amazing thing she'd ever seen.
-"Baby, these guys are crazy and you should never copy what they do. Also, don't tell anyone at school you saw this."
-"Ok, mamma. They are dumb but funny!"
Parenting isn't really rocket science. For the record, she turned out just fine.
My hats off to Dave Chappelle for proving that comedy is not dead. If you have a chance to see him on tour, I recommend you catch him live while you can.