With his new standup special just around the corner, I would like to take this time to talk about The Bird Revelation. My pick for best Dave Chappelle standup, if not one of the best standup hours of the past decade.
I’m going to skip Equanimity for this review. Mainly, because its a straightforward hour of standup. It feels like what Chappelle’s touring set must have been like in 2017. Don’t get me wrong. Its funny as hell. Its just not extraordinary. The Bird Revelation is something separate.
First off, I have never really scene Dave do casual like this. I have always loved his discussions with the audience. And it feels like The Bird Revelation had to happen. A stand up set in the The Belly Room of The Comedy Store is as intimate as it gets. The audience is an arms reach away, and Dave has to adjust his approach as a result. For example, there is a moment where he comes up with a bit about Kevin Spacey, and he can see in the faces of the people that there was one or two that he offended with the joke. This leads to an interesting moment where he doubles down and sort of explains the importance of comedy.
And that’s where I think this show shines. Its almost like freeform jazz in a way. He can use his moment with the audience to lead into another bit. Almost organically. For example, this bit comes out of him explaining the level of pressure black people are under simply by virtue of them being black. He goes through the 400 year history of blacks in america and sequels perfectly into this:
That clip almost doesn’t do it justice. Because the setup to get there (which is cut out of the clip) is almost as long as this bit itself.
And I think that’s why this set sticks with me. I wouldn’t call it Dave’s funniest hour of comedy but I think its his most genuine. The overall thrust of the hour is the connection between what happened to him and the #metoo movement. Throughout the set, it is abundantly clear that Dave sees something in what is going on. That there is a ton he wants to say but he is restricted. He spends the hour dancing around it as he jumps easily from joke to joke.
The centerpiece, is the last 20 minutes. Where it is clear he has prepared his explanation of what happened. Or at least through a lens he can talk about it in: through a story from Pimp: The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim. A book from the 1950s that first delved into the world of pimping. The story he weaves is so compelling that I don’t want to spoil it. I will say I bought the book and read it.
I am not sure people need to read it, but it has a TON of stories like Dave describes. And the story that Dave has is definitely the best in the book.
The analogy is perfect. I don’t really want to spoil it, but I understand much more how he was able to walk away from the Show. He managed to avoid to be tricked into adding more to his ho milage.
It is going to be REALLY hard for Chappelle to top this one. But I never thought he would top For What Its Worth or Killing Them Softly. I can only say I can’t WAIT for the new standup special.
4/4 – This is a masterpiece that only some comedians can ever do. Dave Chappelle is the greatest comedian alive right now. Amazing.