The controversial comic made a surprise appearance as the opening act for the star-studded double bill on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. He spoke about his Hollywood Bowl assault among the night’s many Will Smith allusions.
The surprise opener for Saturday night’s Chris Rock-Kevin Hart doubleheader at Madison Square Garden was Dave Chappelle. Without any introduction other than his white, green, and red letter “C” logo on the LED displays, the controversial comedian entered the stage while smoking a cigarette and wearing a white Nirvana In Utero shirt. He was hailed by a standing ovation from the whole audience, particularly anytime he brought up the subject of “cancel culture,” which he did repeatedly.
He began by saying, “Had to sneak my way in here,” only days after he had to transfer an event in Minneapolis to another location because the first place apparently received negative feedback for hosting the comic.
Despite what you may have seen in the press, Chappelle told the audience, “I’m alright, and I appreciate the support.” He said he “gets it” when people criticise his Netflix special The Closer, but he said, “I have spent the money.”
He made light of the surreal nature of being attacked while performing at the Hollywood Bowl in early May and yelled at his bodyguards for “wearing dress shoes on the job,” complaining he would have been safer if they weren’t “sliding all over the place like at a bowling alley” during his 22-minute opening set.
He bemoaned the fact that Chris Rock was able to crack the first joke after the altercation that night (“Was that Will Smith?”), and he later acknowledged his subsequent joke (“That was a trans guy”) not only bombed but also “set up another two-day news cycle.”
His genuine rage was directed at the media, especially the New York Post, for characterising the assault as “alleged” when it was really caught on camera. Additionally, he said that the newspaper had placed words in the man’s mouth by pressuring him to claim that Chappelle’s writing had set him off. Because he talked to the guy backstage for himself and “all he could say”—at which time Chappelle made “cuckoo” noises—the comedian said he knew the lines were provided.
He continued by saying that he hoped his assailant had monkeypox while he was imprisoned—”not that he should die, but that his ass should ache for four to six weeks.” Also according to Chappelle, Louis C.K. was the first call he received that evening. Louis, even if you get in trouble on the streets, you are still my buddy, Chappelle yelled out.
Chris Rock received the microphone from Chappelle and performed an hour-long stint before handing it off to Kevin Hart. Both guys mentioned Will Smith a few times, although Rock focused more on the “cancel culture” idea. One phrase that rocked the house was, “Anyone who believes words hurt has never been hit in the face.”
The three guys took the stage for a 10-minute free-for-all to bring the evening to a close. They teased one other while expressing their appreciation and affection. This isn’t a coincidence, Hart added.
Hart then presented Rock, who is 14 years older than him, with a goat that was adorned with gold chains, saying that he had a surprise for Rock. I’m not dealing with that sh*t! The crowd seemed to shake with laughter as Rock yelled. Chappelle stopped Hart as he was earnestly expressing his opinion that Chris Rock is the greatest comedian of all time by declaring, “This is the worst night of this goat’s life.”
He’s simply glad he’s not in a Jamaican restaurant, Rock brushed it off.
The goat had an incident on stage at this time. How was your first night in the entertainment industry? Putting a microphone to the goat’s mouth, Chappelle questioned. What are we going to name him, he questioned after the goat made no reply.
William Smith! Hart retaliated.
Chappelle briefly lowered the level as the proceedings came to a close to express his gratitude to Hart and Rock for supporting him. In his words, “when my brothers call, I come rushing,” he said that comedians have a kinship that only other comedians can comprehend.
The five-night Headliners Only mini-tour began on Thursday at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Long Island and continued on Friday to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Prior to the trip’s conclusion in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Monday, the two will spend Sunday night at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. Then, Rock extends his Ego Death tour until November 19, while Hart’s Reality Check tour concludes on September 8.