Comedian Dave Chappelle returned to perform at the Borgata for the first time in 12 years on Friday, part of the casino’s 15th anniversary celebrations. He took to the Borgata’s Event Center stage around 11:30pm with a lit cigarette in his hand, calling Atlantic City one of the last places where you can still get “pussy for under ten dollars” and eventually delved into Kanye West’s mental state, Chuck Berry’s sex tape (who knew?!), and, unfortunately, what the Me Too movement is lacking. (Ugh: Men, of course.) Oh, and he even had a solution for America’s school shooting problem.
Here are five observations from his late night performance:
1. Dave Chappelle is serious about keeping the phones out. The Borgata show was sold out and before attendees could get into the Event Center, we were required to place our phones in locked pouches supplied by Yondr, a startup that charges a fee to performers or venues to provide the phone pouches that we held on to during the show. After the show, Borgata employees unlocked the bags on our way out.
It was a painless process that did keep me focused on the show and, more importantly to Chappelle, kept his bits off of YouTube and Facebook. The fear of being singled out for using a phone was also pretty real. Chappelle promised he’d call out violators himself.
2. Chappelle believes in Kanye West’s redemption. After saying that West throws the best barbecues, Chappelle asserted that the rapper — who’s thrown his support behind Donald Trump and conservative commentators like Candace Owens — would “come back” to the black community.
According to Chappelle, West is the Jack Johnson of our time. Johnson, a prolific American boxer of the early 1900s whom Trump recently pardoned, was unapologetic about his relations with white women. That’s just one parallel Chappelle drew between the two.
3. It’s apparently not too soon to joke about recent school shootings. America’s greatest threat to America is America, Chappelle said. And one leading cause is our refusal to get rid of guns for good. To solve school shootings and save the country, black people simply need to register for legal firearms, he reasoned. “That’s when the laws will change,” Chappelle said. He’s got a point there.
I laughed pretty hard (one of the few times I laughed during his set — frankly, opener Wil Sylvince was much funnier) when Chappelle asked us to picture our 10th grade English teacher with a gun. “I don’t think Ms. Shaffer could handle that,” he said, guessing the shooter would take out the teacher and score an extra gun.
And as a parent, can you really know if you’re raising a shooter, he questioned, but he was certain it’s likelier if you’re white. When Chappelle’s high school son underwent school shooting drills, he found it hard to not tell his son that death is likely inevitable in the situation. “It’s either fight or flight,” Chappelle told the audience. If you try to fight, you’ll get shot. If you try to hide, you’ll get shot. “You’ve seen those desks!” he shouted above the roar of the crowd. And besides, if the school shooter is being trained with fellow classmates during drills, won’t he or she know the “survival” plan?
Hard truths/jokes to swallow.
4. WorldStarHipHop isn’t dead, and neither are (really old) sex tapes. What’s the most disrespectful thing Dave Chappelle has ever seen? Well, there was the Worldstar video of an able-bodied woman beating up a disabled woman in a wheelchair. But then he upped the ante: Chuck Berry’s 1980s sex tape. The video is apparently complete with flatulence and urine. R. Kelly would be shocked. I’ll leave it at that, I think.
5. The Me Too movement should include men. In Chappelle’s perhaps most shallow point of the night — there were several — the comedian argued in support of the Me Too movement but said men should be allowed some room to get involved. “You’re losing a fight you should be winning,” Chappelle said as he recounted men like Aziz Ansari who simply “can’t f**k” and Louis C.K. who was thoughtful enough to ejaculate on his own stomach in front of women sitting in his office — a sign that he’s not as vicious as some of the other men the movement has taken down. The Me Too movement should give men a chance to fight for women since protecting women is at their core. Ugh, Dave. Men (the perpetrators) can’t be the heroes of every story.