Dave Chappelle’s return to standup has been pretty low-key, one widely publicized incident aside, and now we know he was working up to something big. From June 24 to 26, the former Chappelle’s Show host will take over New York’s Radio City Music Hall, joined by a full orchestra and a different musical guest each night. And the co-headliners are an impressive bunch: the Roots and Erykah Badu, along with a three-artist bill of Janelle Monáe, Busta Rhymes, and DJ Premier.
Though Chappelle made a brief, unannounced appearance during a concert with the Roots at Radio City in 2006, the concert series marks the comic’s first official New York shows since a particularly momentous one in his history. A decade ago, Chappelle held a huge, free block party in Brooklyn, and the subsequent, Michel Gondry-directed film — aptly titled Dave Chappelle’s Block Party — roped in appearances by Badu, the Roots, Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, Jill Scott, Cody Chesnutt, Big Daddy Kane, and the Fugees.
Before Chappelle’s upcoming run of co-headlining dates, he’s also booked to do stand-up as a solo headliner at Radio City from June 18 to 22. Those shows, with no scheduled musical guests, are sold out.
Chappelle was famously reclusive in the years after went off the air in 2006, but he has more recently been easing his way back into the limelight. Though a high-profile walk-off amid heckling at a Hartford, Connecticut gig last summer made headlines, when I saw him in November he was uncontroversial almost to a fault, focusing many jokes on his more recent life as a rural Ohio father. That’s not to say Prince’s “Breakfast Can Wait” cover star has lost his wild side altogether: In February, he crowd-surfed during a Skrillex show. That, friends, is when keeping it real goes oh-so-right.