I have a confession to make. I’ve never written a comedy show review before. In fact, I’ve never really reviewed anything before. Then again, this isn’t so much a review of the recent show Dave Chappelle gave in Hartford, CT, but a note, 713 words that intend to capture a snapshot of American culture right now on August 30th 2013.

It wasn’t his fault, entirely. What the audience expected it seemed was not a new Dave Chappelle in 2013 who has spent the last 8 years travelling and trying to separate from constant Rick James impressions and a legion of wannabee stoners talking about female genetalia. The audience expected him to perform the very material that caused his exit in 2004. It’s the same problem that “fans” encounter at all performances of well established artists. The artist’s journey is about progression, yet those who buy tickets now crave familiarity, status and resent the idea that anyone could have new material. Instead, at a certain point he abandoned his regular material and told the audience about when Richard Pryor gave his last show, about Pryor’s battle with MS, and what it’s like to have everyone in the world against you. And those moments were real, funny, inspiring, if only he could be heard over the sounds of egotistical booing.

Here’s the lowdown. Dave came on stage and remarked that he looked old, and that yes he was back, for good. He launched into new material remarking on travelling the world, being adored by Asian women, owning the N-word, Paula Dean, Kramer etc…The audience wasn’t in the mood for it. Apparently some collective mentality in the audience existed or formed throughout the course of his set that caused a series of stalemate maneuvers on Mr. Chappelle’s part in an effort to curb the crowd’s growing restlessness. Fair warning, everything else from here on is speculation, observations and ponderings about what it means to be American.

Does an average fan of Dave harbor animosity towards his success? Most of the people I spoke with after the show were most looking forward to seeing him. It’s not like he was an afterthought to the audience. In particular Dave is known for being funny, hilarious really, but only up until 8 years ago when he exited the business for a slew of reasons. Since this was not the only day of the Oddball tour, and Dave commented that this audience seemed particularly rambunctious, it seems unlikely that it has anything to do with common perception of him abandoning his fans. So what could be the difference between this show and the others? Let’s explore further. The doors opened at 2:30pm, nearly 8 hours before Dave would take the stage. In this time, the audience had plenty, and possibly too much time to wander, drink, listen to other acts, eat, drink, drink and wait for Dave to come on. On top of that, it was a Thursday night, most members of the audience likely had work the next day and had gotten a fair share of laughs already for the night, so any anxiousness about a 10pm start may have exacerbated the situation. For a solid fifteen minutes Dave performed his material, and did some improvised crowd interactions and the audience roared with laughter. An interesting moment occurred at a lull in his set right after he commented that this was an awful audience. His comment didn’t come out of the blue, he had been gently requesting since the beginning of his set that people refrain from heckling him about his past. It was never clear that all the shouting had to do with his career before he apparently got fed up with the industry expecting ignorant material from him, but here are a few examples: “OPRAH!” “I LOVE WEED” “YEAHHH” He clearly addressed heckles that came his way which possibly encouraged additional attention to screaming more inflammatory things as the set went on. Are we as Americans now obsessed with the idea of fame and not talent? Did Dave get so many people to come out because they are fans of exclusivity? I know the thought crossed my mind that my friends would be jealous of me since nobody I know has ever gotten to see him live.