Dave Chappelle in Tokyo!!!
Usually, I devote space on this site to discussions about Japanese comedy today I will make an exception. Last night I was lucky enough to catch American comedy superstar Dave Chappelle in his only appearance in Japan (and Asia for that matter) in Tokyo and he did not disappoint. It may be hard to believe but although I’m a huge comedy fan last night’s show was the first time I had seen stand-up in English live and let me tell you, it will be hard to top this show. Dave covered all the touchy subjects in society with his trademark flare for stepping close to the edge (and sometimes over it). Looking back on what he did joke about it was easy to see why all of the audience were require to put their smartphones and other devices into small, locked pouches that could only be accessed after the show. I’m sure if some recording of this show got out without the context in which it was presented it could create controversy. Of course, this also forced people to actually pay attention to the show, something I’m sure artists are frustrated with in the digital age.
After waiting while listening to the DJ on the stage, Dave finally came out at 7:55 (start time 7:30) to a roaring crowd of 90%+ foreigners. His set was roughly an hour and a half long and the audience was very receptive to what Dave was selling. (Although it is getting better with Jim Gaffigan and Liza Shlesinger performing in March and June in Tokyo, it’s rare to see someone of Dave’s caliber performing in Tokyo. ) The set covered a whole range of issues from the recently scathing documentary on Michael Jackson, LGBT-related humor, how stupid R. Kelly is, school shootings, guns, the #metoo movement, bringing up the past to ruin people today, and the general over sensitive nature of America today when it comes to humor. Dave also added some local flavor to his set with jokes about Japanese pornography, how Japanese aren’t have sex these days, and even the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima (for which he sheepishly apologized, noting the US took it to the extreme a bit). One of his longer bits was a hilariously/painfully disgusting recap of the Chuck Berry sex tape which he came across one night on accident. The notoriously revolting sex tape as described by Dave had the audience writhing in horror and laughter at the same time.
One of the biggest themes that Dave seemed to come back to again and again was that we shouldn’t bring up the past to take down people in the present and that everyone makes mistakes. This is an over simplification of his point and shouldn’t be taken out of the context of the show however. In the end, Dave wrapped up the show telling the audience to “forgive yourself” for mistakes in the past and in turn, “forgive others”. This point is somewhat difficult to accept when some people do not come clean to their mistakes in the past and seek repentance (I’m looking at you, Louis CK) but it was a good way to end a show that brought down the house while addressing many difficult issues. Overall, the show was one of the funniest performances I have every seen and it was just amazing to see someone so naturally in control of his craft.