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Concert review: Dave Chappelle delivers laughs to full house at Abravanel

FILE - In this June 13, 2006 file photo, comedian Dave Chappelle promotes the release of his new DVD "Dave Chappelle's Block Party," at the Virgin Megastore in Los Angeles. Chappelle has struck back at Hartford five days after he was heckled at a show and refused to perform his set. According to audio posted on, Chappelle praises an audience in Chicago on Tuesday for being "so much better than Hartford." He tells the crowd that if North Korea were to drop a bomb on the U.S., he hopes it "lands in Hartford, Connecticut." Chappelle was the headliner last Thursday in Hartford at the Funny or Die Presents The Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, which is touring the country. (AP Photo/Stefano Paltera, File)

By Sean P. Means

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Oct 30 2013 10:16PM
Updated Feb 14, 2014 11:37PM

Unlike, say, Hartford, Conn., Salt Lake City has produced fond memories for comedian Dave Chappelle — and created more by the end of his show Wednesday night at Abravanel Hall.

The last time he was in Salt Lake City, Chappelle told a nearly sold-out Abravanel audience, "I remember how dope the crowd was."

His appreciation of the Salt Lake audience stands in contrast to his distaste for the folks of Hartford — where he endured rude hecklers at an Aug. 29 show and spent the final minutes of his set sitting onstage in silence.

"I gotta stay out here so I can get my check," Chappelle said he was thinking at the time. "It felt like being a stripper — and I’m not saying that to disparage strippers."

He continued his Hartford rant, recounting a joke he told at a later show, in Chicago, involving the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and that country’s potential for nuclear weapons. The joke ended with Chappelle commenting, "If that motherf----- ever decides to drop a bomb on the United States, I hope it hits Hartford, Connecticut."

That joke led to the mayor of Hartford lambasting Chappelle on the celebrity-gossip site TMZ as "unprofessional and immature." "I’m unprofessional? He’s the one doing TMZ interviews," Chappelle said.

The first portion of Chappelle’s set remained topical. For example, he expressed mock-empathy for celebrity chef Paula Deen, who lost her Food Network gig after revelations she had once used the "N-word" (a word Chappelle, who is black, used sparingly). Chappelle even said he would hire Deen as his private chef. "The best part is the uniform: We’d dress her up like Aunt Jemima," he said.

Chappelle also did a lengthy — and largely unrepeatable — routine about the rapper Li’l Wayne. It was about the only celebrity impersonation he did all night, as he seems to have retired his trademark Rick James spoof.

Chappelle refrained from making the usual polygamy jokes comics resort to when visiting Utah. Once he asked the crowd, "Does anyone here have more than one wife?" When someone in the balcony yelled "three," Chappelle shot back, "I don’t know how you can still afford tickets."

Many could afford them, at $55 a pop (plus service fees), enough nearly to fill the 2,700-seat Abravanel Hall only six days after the concert was announced.

The crowd was treated to 77 minutes by one of the funniest, and most adept, stand-up comedians in the business. Chappelle’s gift is that his routines are tightly constructed — with punchlines paying off long after the set-up — but with a delivery that feels tossed off the top of his head.

The target of much of Chappelle’s humor was himself, as he talked about turning 40, dealing with his wife, honing his parenting skills, and answering fans and critics about leaving his popular Comedy Central TV series "Chappelle’s Show" in 2005.

Some of the jokes skirt the edge of tastelessness, which is how Chappelle rolls. "I know these things are f---ed up," he said at one point. "Don’t even write the letter. I’m not going to read it."

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