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[EDITORIAL] Dave Chappelle (unsurprisingly) walks off stage in Hartford after heckling

[EDITORIAL] Dave Chappelle (unsurprisingly) walks off stage in Hartford after heckling
Angie Frissore

The Laugh Button is reporting that comedian Dave Chappelle walked off a Hartford stage Thursday night during the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival after having to deal with a noisy, heckling crowd. According to audience members, Chappelle stopped his routine after about ten minutes, claiming that people in front were making too much noise. He then proceeded to sit on a stool, smoking, reading a book and making idle chat until his set time was up.


While some were quick to admonish the comedian’s behavior, most seem to understand Chappelle’s frustration with the unruly and loud crowd. I am one of those sympathizers.

When Chapelle performed earlier this summer at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, a common theme throughout his shows was a very talkative crowd who desperately wanted to engage the comedian in any kind of back-and-forth. Many audience members continually shouted to the comic, making it difficult at times for him to continue his set. Those fans, however, grateful to have the chance to see Chappelle perform, quickly obliged and eventually settled down to let the performance continue.

Now, call me crazy, but that would be enough to piss off any comedian – not just Dave Chappelle. When a comedian takes the stage, he or she has a plan. They’ve spent insane amounts of time perfecting their jokes and working out their set, and when a crowd insists on derailing that plan, certain consequences should be expected. Couple that behavior with a comedian who has just returned to do a highly-anticipated tour, and tempers are sure to flare.

Some audience members took to Twitter to vent frustration that they had “paid $50 to watch Dave Chappelle sit on a stool and smoke cigarettes.” I might be off-base here, but I was under the impression that the cost of a ticket to the Oddball Festival would get you far more than a Dave Chappelle set alone. Let’s not forget who shares that bill with Chappelle – Jeff Ross, Demetri Martin, Hannibal Buress, just to name a few. It’s simply inappropriate to make it seem like the entire night rested in the hands of Dave Chappelle.

Had the Hartford crowd acted in a slightly more responsible fashion (i.e., letting the man perform uninterrupted), they may have been treated to a similar audience interaction that Chappelle graciously afforded his Montreal fans earlier this summer. But they did not, and ultimately a pissed-off Chappelle acted as he saw fit.

Videos have surfaced of Chappelle walking off stage – but my opinions on video taping a comedy show will be saved for another rant.

It’s truly a shame that the people of Hartford could not only respect an entertainer enough to, well, let him perform, but also to place the entire success of the show squarely on one act’s shoulders. Hopefully when the Oddball Festival rolls into other cities, those in attendance will take a minute or so to assess their own behavior and do their best to let the show continue.




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