|Chappelle’s Show – The Complete First Season Uncensored|
|DVD TV Shows|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 24 February 2004|
“Chappelle’s Show” airs on Comedy Central, the same network that brings us “South Park” and “Crank Yankers.” Because of this, Chappelle is able to get away with some stuff that many people might deem offensive or racist. However, it’s obvious to anyone with even half a brain and any kind of sense of humor that, although edgy, the humor on Chappelle’s show isn’t hateful. It’s all in good fun and, as Chappelle and series co-creator Neal Brennan note in the commentary tracks, anyone who thinks the show is racist needs to realize that it’s written by a black guy and a white guy in “perfect racial harmony.”
The opening sketch of Season One is a take off on a corporate training video for a major chain of unnamed photocopy stores starring Michael Rapaport (“Bamboozled,” “Higher Learning”) and Guillermo Díaz who is Chappelle’s friend and co-star from the movie “Half Baked.” This hilarious bit draws on the fact that almost everyone has had a bad experience at one time or another with a rude employee in places like this. It seems almost as if the employees are actually trained how to be rude and inconsiderate.
The show is a combination of Chappelle in front of a live audience briefly setting up the sketches and the actually comedy bits themselves. Unlike a live comedy sketch show, like “Saturday Night Live” or “Mad TV,” which tend to drag on and have scenes that often fizzle out, Chappelle’s show is highly edited and has the benefit of being shot in advance. You see in the blooper reel that they will shoot countless takes of the scenes, often letting the actors, especially Chappelle, ad-lib until they get a great take. Chappelle isn’t an A-list comedic acting star like Jim Carrey (yet), but it doesn’t take a genius to see that he has the ability to steal a scene and take it in new and hilarious directions that the writers and directors didn’t originally envision.
One of the more popular recurring characters on the show include Tyrone Biggums, America’s favorite crack addict, who goes to an elementary school to give an anti-drug speech. His white lips have been repeatedly burned by the crack pipe, his clothes smell like urine but his heart is made of gold. Another favorite still on the show, even well into its second season, is black comedian Paul Mooney, who started on the show doing the skit “Ask a Black Dude.” In this segment, a concept that Chappelle started in his live act, people on the street ask questions that they always wanted to know about black people. Mooney sits in the studio and watches the questions on a monitor and then comments on them off the top of his head. Mooney has a very aggressive, angry style and pulls no punches. In the bonus features on the DVD, we get to see Mooney in the studio for 20 minutes watching and commenting on people’s sometimes-ridiculous questions. The show has a similar segment, “Ask a Gay Dude,” with questions answered by openly gay actor Mario Cantone, best known for his performances on “Sex and the City.” The most disturbing thing about these two segments aren’t the answers by Mooney and Cantone, but rather the fact that the “Chappelle’s Show” crew ran into Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snyder and let him ask questions for both segments.
You can see Chappelle’s confidence increase as the year progresses. In the early stages of the show, Chappelle just seems grateful that the show hasn’t been pulled off the air. He even makes a joke in the first show when they come back from a commercial break that he’s surprised that they haven’t cancelled it yet.
It takes listening to the commentary tracks to make you realize that part of the genius of the show comes from its director, Rusty Cundieff. For those of you not familiar with Cundieff, he did a spoof of “This Is Spinal Tap” set in the rap music world in the ‘early 90s, “Fear of a Black Hat.” This title was a takeoff on the Public Enemy album titled Fear of a Black Planet. The humor was very similar to “Chappelle’s Show,” with countless little gags mixed in with the primary jokes in each segment. This show has such good writing from Chappelle and Brennan that it would surely be funny even if Woody Allen directed it, but having someone like Cundieff at the helm who really understands this brand of humor makes it that much funnier.
If you are like me and have already seen all of the episodes, the real gems on the disc are the commentary tracks and the bonus footage. A nearly 30-minute segment with outtakes is included and has some hilarious bloopers, crackups and ad-lib sessions. Other than the commentary, the blooper reel and the 20-minute “Ask a Black Dude” piece, there aren’t any other extras on the disc, but that isn’t too important. The real stars of the disc are the episodes. Chappelle doing his R. Kelly impression, signing “I Want to Pee On You,” portraying a famous KKK member who is blind and doesn’t know he’s black and Chappelle and the crew doing a spoof of MTV’s “The Real World” for almost an entire 22-minute show are just a few examples of the cutting-edge humor that apologizes to no one and makes no excuses for being some of the funniest comedy you will find anywhere, no doubt.