In his first interview in quite some time – and certainly his first since he appeared at Alonzo Mourning’s charity event, Zo’s Summer Groove – comedian Dave Chappelle explained his side of the story when he was heckled at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock in late July.
Chappelle said the front row of the comedy show was full of “Seminole Indians” who started heckling him, and that the security there “didn’t want to tell them to be quiet.”
“Imagine trying to talk to someone and they are talking while you are talking and they are holding a camera in your face,” Chappelle said.
But he later told the radio hosts at San Francisco’s WILD 94.9 FM that he came back the next night for the Gala Concert, which featured Cee-Lo Green and Alicia Keys. “It was a charity show and I didn’t want to put a stink vibe on a charity event,” he said. “The next night was a good show.”
On Friday, July 22, Chappelle strayed from his material at Zo’s Comedy Jam – part of the Zo’s Summer Groove charity event – when a couple of audience members started making disparaging comments.
“He [Chappelle] allowed the audience to dictate the stand up,” Andrew Barnett, 29, was quoted in The Miami Herald. “He acknowledged them, which created a problem.”
Barnett cites Chappelle’s long absence from stand-up comedy as a potential reason why the comedian may have been deterred by the hecklers.
“Instead of jumping into the routine, he was responding to people,” he said.
What also sidetracked Chappelle were some audience members taping the skit on their camera phones. The comedian asked them to stop, which resulted in more of the audience making comments.
“It wasn’t that he was bombing for not having material,” Barnett said. “He wanted to get into his routine.”
Several minutes later – with no jokes told by Chappelle – he left the stage, encouraged by Miami’s DJ Irie, who began spinning music indicating it was time for the comic to close.
“All right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a real experience. In closing, I am glad to be here. I’m glad Alonzo Mourning has this charity.’’
In 2005, Chappelle abruptly disappeared from his widely popular Comedy Central show and ventured to South Africa. While there, it was rumored that the comedian checked into a mental health facility, according to a 2005 Access Hollywood article.
A year earlier in 2004, Chappelle walked off stage for nearly two minutes during a performance at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, Ca.
What riled Chappelle during that appearance was audience members who wouldn’t “shut up and listen,” according to the Sacremento Bee.