CANTON − Dave Chappelle drew big laugh after big laugh on Sunday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium with jokes about Will Smith and Chris Rock, marriage advice to a couple seated near the stage, social issues, and what he would do if ever elected Ohio governor.
An Ohio theme was constantly in his roughly one-hour standup routine. Chappelle still calls Yellow Springs, Ohio home, where he spent part of his childhood.
He warmly praised Ohio several times and gave a heartfelt greeting to legendary former Cleveland Browns star Jim Brown.
Chappelle said Brown was in attendance.
Chappelle drew a large crowd at the venue, which holds about 23,000 for football games but less for other events.
Following opening standup acts, when the famous funnyman stepped in front of the bright lights, the stadium was largely full.
The local stop is part of the globally-popular comedian’s “In Your Dreams” tour.
Cellphone use prohibited in performance space for ‘unplugged, real life experience’
The event was touted as a phone-free experience. Use of cellphones was not permitted in the performance space. Attendees could secure their phones in individual Yondr pouches that were then opened at the end of the event.
Guests could access their phone during the show in designated areas if necessary.
The policy was intended to create an “unplugged, real life experience,” according to information posted through Ticketmaster.
Anyone seen using a cellphone during the performance would be escorted out of the venue by security, which happened at least once when near the end of the show, a man was seen recording video.
Chappelle has upcoming shows in Yellow Springs and Great Britain
Chappelle, who is known for his highly-successful Netlflicks comedy specials, humorously interspersed the names of some big stars into Sunday’s show, including boxer Floyd Mayweather.
Chappelle drew bursts of laughter when cracking jokes about the time he’s spent at Mayweather’s Las Vegas strip club, while amusingly emphasizing his wife’s lack of jealousy.
He spent considerable time on the subject of actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars a few months ago.
Chappelle shifted between humor and insightful commentary on the effect the highly-publicized incident has had on Smith.
Chappelle, meanwhile, has triggered controversy himself, drawing backlash last year for jokes he made related to the LGBT community in a Netflix show. He referenced the controversy numerous times, explaining that he doesn’t have a beef with the group.
Last month, Chappelle switched venues for his Minneapolis show after the original club drew backlash for hosting him, USA Today reported.
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First Avenue, which planned to host Chappelle’s performance, announced hours before the comedian was set to perform that he’d take his show to the Varsity Theater, another Minneapolis venue, instead.
Chappell’s upcoming shows include appearances in Yellow Springs this month. He’s also scheduled to perform with fellow comedian Chris Rock in Liverpool, Great Britain and at Wembley Stadium in London in September at a Taylor Hawkins tribute concert. Two shows in the Netherlands are also set for next month.
Canton’s show was the first time the stadium has hosted a comedian, an example of the high-profile bookings the Hall of Fame Village has been landing for the venue. Chappelle took the stage a night after the rock band Journey headlined the Concert for Legends during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.
Chappelle is an acclaimed comedian, having received the Mark Twin Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2019.
His work in standup comedy, writing, producing and acting have earned him recognition and numerous nominations in television and film.
Chappelle also has appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” while receiving Emmy awards for his comedy specials. His comedy albums have received Grammy awards. The celebrity also drew record high viewership on Netflix for a comedy special.
Chappelle was criticized last year for a Netflix comedy, “The Closer,” in which he attempted to juxtapose the pace of civil rights gained by LGBTQ people over those fought for by the Black community, according to USA Today.
In May, Chappelle was attacked on stage by an audience member during his set for the Netflix Is A Joke Fest in Los Angeles. The suspect was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after pointing a replica handgun containing a knife at Chappelle, the newspaper said.
Chappelle had the crowd erupting in laughter when joking about the incident, although he also noted it was ”very scary.”
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At the end of Sunday’s performance, Chappelle was showered with applause.
Before departing, he expressed both a serious and sentimental message to the residents of his home state, imploring them to get along and trust one another.
Walking off the stage, he waved to the crowd as hip-hop music blared from the sound system.
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