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[EXCLUSIVE] Dave Chappelle Breaks Record, Makes Just For Laughs History

Left to right: Robbie Praw (Just For Laughs General Programming Director), Bruce Hills (Just For Laughs COO), Rick Greenstein (The Gersh Agency), Dave Chappelle and Gilbert Rozon (founder of Just For Laughs/Juste pour rire)
Angie Frissore

Don’t call it a comeback.

If you were wondering if comedian Dave Chappelle would  be off his game at all during his ten-show run at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival last week after being out of the spotlight for a few years, just you think again. The superstar comedian – whose first show sold out in mere seconds – broke an all-time festival record for the most tickets sold at a whopping 14,221 tickets for his ten performances.

Chappelle’s performances at the heralded comedy festival more than met fans’ expectations as he got up close and personal in sets that averaged close to two hours in length – even allowing time to graciously field some questions and suggestions from audience members.

Despite his performances and upcoming tour schedule, Chappelle insists that this isn’t a comeback – mainly because he never saw himself as having gone anywhere. And while the media ran full-steam with theories on what had happened to the comedian, Chappelle assured his fans that the rumors of his demise were greatly overstated (he’s never done crack cocaine in his life, for starters).

Humbled by the overwhelming reception given to him by his audiences (including a standing ovation upon taking the stage for his Friday night late show), it was clear to see how much Chappelle was enjoying his return to the stage. The comedian joked about missing out on some of the best comedy material during his absence, having a black president (even offering up the insight that his mother is bi-racial), and spoke candidly about his wife and children and his life in Ohio. He also demonstrated his comedic genius in several off-the-cuff Lil’ Wayne impressions that led the comic to muse about going on for another seven hour set.

While some were quick to criticize Chappelle for a less-than-stellar start to his Montreal run, the comedian certainly had those critics eating their words by the time the weekend wrapped up as his shows proved to be the biggest draw of the 2013 Just For Laughs Festival. Dave will be hitting the road this fall as part of the Oddball Comedy Festival, and, after what we’ve just seen, you won’t want to miss it for anything.

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