by Robert Bell
7 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $64.
Who saw this one coming? Anybody? The comedy world's closest equivalent to J.D. Salinger is coming to ... Little Rock and Memphis? The last I'd read of Dave Chappelle was back in July 2011 when he did a two-night stint for charity at a Miami casino, and the first night ended with him standing there at length, answering text messages and telling all of one joke, apparently because a bunch of yahoos in the front were filming the set with their phones.
Now that is some tacky behavior for sure, but did it warrant giving the silent treatment to the non-mouth-breather contingent of the audience as well? I don't know, but I'm inclined to sympathize with Chappelle on this one because probably more than most comics, he's had to deal with obnoxious fans ("Man, I bet everybody'll think it's hilarious when I scream 'I'm Rick James, bitch!' right in the middle of Dave's set!"), but also because I just really, really want everybody to put away their $*¥%@#! phones for one minute.
But aside from the Miami incident (for which he apologized and mocked himself the next night) I'm intrigued by reports of Chappelle working out new material at impromptu late-night sets at small comedy clubs. Daily Beast columnist Touré described one of these shows and said that while the set meandered a bit and didn't really have a theme, Chappelle killed and his "comedy muscles remain cock diesel."
The crowd at Robinson will get to find out for sure, but please (and I really shouldn't have to say this), people: keep your catchphrases and your phones in your pockets.