Last night I attended an Aziz Ansari stand-up performance. Before the show started, Aziz made an announcement to the crowd from offstage — under the alias of “DJ Eggplant Parmesan” — asking show attendees not to interrupt it with any “WOOOO”s or to ask questions or to make random references to any of the characters he’s become famous for playing. The one time someone did actually interrupt his show to yell something out, Aziz promptly halted his act and yelled, “SHUT THE F*CK UP!” and that was that. The crowd cheered his stern shaming of the girl responsible for the outburst, and the show went on without a hitch.
It’s sad that any comic, much less one of Aziz’s stature, has to make such an announcement and go to great lengths to control their crowds. I’ve never been able to wrap my brain around how some titanic as$holes can believe that the price of admission to a comedy show grants them the right to interrupt it and heckle the performer(s) if they so choose. Like, who the f*ck raises this breed of moron? Do they not realize that doing such things potentially ruins the show for all the people who paid to see it?
In reality, they don’t care, which is why I (and many others) consider comedy show hecklers/interrupters among the lowest forms of subhuman. They should be sterilized, in fact, so that they can’t reproduce — humanity would benefit from it. If you don’t like a show, get up, walk out and ask for your money back at the box office like a normal goddamn human being.
Now, having a few friends who work in comedy, I’m aware of a few cities where this sort of thing is sadly prevalent — cities appropriately known in comedy circles as “bad comedy cities.” Predictably, these are usually the same cities that register high concentrations of mouth-breathing dipsh*ts among the local population. Austin is not typically one of those cities, but that wasn’t last night when Dave Chappelle — DAVE CHAPPELLE!!! — made a surprise appearance at the Paramount Theater.
After it was announced yesterday morning that Chappelle would be performing at the Paramount, all of the theater’s 1200 seats were sold a couple of hours later. What happened later that night sounds like nothing short of a disaster — a scene one would assume would be much more fitting for a Texas city like Dallas (which hosted a Chappelle performance the previous night that went off without a hitch, btw) than Austin, that’s for sure. (The fact that the Austin show tickets were presumably snapped up by in-the-know locals just makes it all the more baffling.)
Taking the stage in jeans and a light blue t-shirt, a buff and chain-smoking Chappelle brought the packed house to a standing ovation. Chappelle, who allegedly arrived to Austin from Dallas on his motorcycle, said he never dreamed he would have this much fun in Texas. Of course, the provincial and self-righteous Austinites in the crowd yelled out how Austin was not like the rest of Texas. And so it began. A night of shouting, (presumably drunk) morons interrupting the once King of Comedy with their worthless insights.
Chappelle steadied the ship a bit, controlling the room with his casual, likable manner, and calmly ticking off a few prepared bits. He joked about his absence from the entertainment world and how he had dodged some odd offers to get back in the game (a movie from Master P. did not pass his sniff test).
After a few innocuous riffs on homosexuality, Chappelle spotted a fan in the first row with a recording device (whether it was video or audio was uclear).
He took the item from the fan, to raucous applause, but that would be the first trickle in what became a torrent of requests for specific jokes and general inanity. The D.C.-raised comedian half-jokingly remarked that the cell phone used by the fan represented a lack of privacy in the world and commented that was the reason he got out of the game originally.
Bad vibes conjured, the tone had been set. To his credit, Chappelle rolled with the punches. One could argue he should have been stern with the fools and taken better control of the room, but the audience was clearly to blame.
Only a small percentage of the audience acted like idiots. But the night was proof that 50 people can almost ruin the night for 1,250. Chappelle responded to almost every heckler with Ninja-like grace, moving left and right, Matrix-style, as the comments came flying out of the dark. Unfortunately his ease with the idiots only encouraged them, exacerbating what he referred to as a press-conference-style event.
Thanks a lot, dicks! You just treated one of this era’s greatest comic geniuses — a guy who’s slowly begun to reemerge after a self-imposed exile — like Howard Stern treats a guy doing air sex on America’s Got Talent or something. Sure, his act may not have been polished, but this is what comedians do — they pop up in random places to test out/hone their act before going on an official tour (like the one Chappelle may do with Chris Rock). I guess even the doltish as$holes are bigger in Texas.
Naturally, a quick check of Twitter turned up quite a few Austinites who were at the show and left mortified…
And sadly, it appears as though the incident has led Chappelle to cancel the other shows he planned to do in Texas.
Come to New Orleans, Dave! We’ll lovingly heal whatever wounds Texas inflicted upon you!