Move over, Neil Munro. When Dave Chappelle performed a show at The Paramount Theatre in Austin, Tex. on Tuesday, he was largely unable to get through his set due to hecklers mercilessly interrupting the legendary stand-up comic.
Chappelle had booked the Paramount show only hours before and sold out the 1,200 seat theater in minutes, as is common for the comedian. Since abruptly leaving “Chappelle’s Show” in 2006, citing mental exhaustion, he has stayed largely out of the media spotlight, performing mostly unpublicized gigs in New York City and Los Angeles. Austin audiences felt they were in for a treat.
Chappelle asked to be booked at the Austin theatre after a well-received show in Dallas that weekend.
Comedian Paul Varghese opened and specifically instructed the audience not to heckle Dave, who just last year made headlines for a refusing to tell jokes at a show in Miami after being heckled and videoed by fans.
As reported by Austin 360, the show was first sidetracked when Chappelle noticed an audience member in the front row recording his set. The comedian confiscated the recording device and remarked that fans’ entitlement to record his shows was part of the reason he largely stopped performing stand-up.
That back-and-forth set off a chain reaction of many audience members yelling at Chappelle while he was onstage.
But Chappelle was allegedly far from antagonistic towards the unruly crowd; rather, he seemed to indulge in the rudeness. According to The Dallas Morning News, “…[W]here most performers loathe their hecklers, Chappelle welcomes them — encourages them even, using their random shout-outs to get him back on track when the wheels go wobbly.”
That embracing of the crowd may have been the reason The Paramount failed to control the crowd or throw out audience members. The downtown theatre posted in part on its official Facebook:
When security was escorting a patron out that had been recording the show, Dave Chappelle said he should stay. He then chose to respond and include the audience in his show. This created a domino effect of audience “participation.” While we may not be in agreement with the choice, it was the artist’s choice to interact with the audience that we had to ultimately respect.