The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

DAVE CHAPPELLE AND THE PRICE OF FAME
This may be old news, but it's new to me... By way of Hooray for Captain Spaulding, we find that Dave Chappelle doesn't appreciate the increased heckling that comes with being a TV star:
"The show is ruining my life," Chappelle told the crowd. Besides requiring him to work "20 hours a day," he said, it has made him a "star," which has resulted in the inability of fans to treat him as an individual.

"This (stand-up) is the most important thing I do, and because I'm on TV, you make it hard for me to do it," he said.

"People can't distinguish between what's real and fake. This ain't a TV show. You're not watching Comedy Central. I'm real up here talking."
It occurs to me that Chappelle's not helping his case in how "Chappelle's Show" is set up. It begins and ends with him up on stage, riffing and setting up skits, in front of an audience--in other words, replicating a stand-up show. Small wonder people are having trouble distinguishing between that and his "real" stand-up.

It sounds like someone's about ready to quit doing stand-up. At least in Sacramento.

This brings to mind Jerry Seinfeld's similar hissy-fit in a scene from Comedian, after he gets interrupted during his set on Long Island by some chattering patrons. I'm paraphrasing, but in effect he says, "How big do you fucking have to be, before they finally stop talking and pay attention??" Of course, Seinfeld waited until he was done and backstage before letting loose.

Despite the two-minute disappearing act and berating of the audience, Chappelle does make some excellent points about the folly of celebrity fawning:
"Stop listening to celebrities," he said. "They do what they do for money - that's all. I don't even know why you're listening to me. I've done commercials for both Coke and Pepsi. Truth is, I can't even taste the difference, but Pepsi paid me last, so there it is."

Celebrity worship harms the object of affection as well, Chappelle said. "One day people love you more than they've ever loved anything in the world. And the next, you're in front of a courthouse dancing on top of a car."

In case the audience didn't get the reference to Michael Jackson, he said, "You know why Michael Jackson's had so many surgeries? He wanted you to like him more."
More recently, ex-Minnesota Vikings running back Robert Smith made much the same point about sports celebrity, citing it as a chief reason why he retired in 2000, in the prime of his career.