Dave Chappelle: did he really 'melt down' ?
Audience member says Dave Chappelle's 'meltdown' rooted in racism
When comedian Dave Chappelle performs at Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Sunday, he will step on stage amidst a controversy swirling around his tour and whether his decision to walk off the stage after being heckled at a show in August was justified as response to racism.
The controversy began when Chappelle performed in Hartford, Connecticuit in August.
While his comedy has always riffed on racial tension, Chappelle walked off stage after being heckled repeatedly by audience members.
Widely characterized as a meltdown, Chappelle argues the reason he walked off was because of the racial undertones of the crowd's heckling.
Chappelle later said the crowd was full of "young, white alcoholics."
And one of the people who was in the audience at the Hartford show agrees with him.
Lesli-Ann Lewis told CBC Radio's Stephen Quinn on The Early Edition "Black people understand" why Chappelle walked off the stage.
"People would not stop, they were antagonizing him," said Lewis, of the mostly White audience.
"They didn't react like that to any of the other comics that were on stage that night."
In her column for Ebony, Lewis wrote "it speaks to a long complicated history: the relationship between the white audience and the black entertainer."
"This is a relationship you can easily trace to early minstrel shows, to archetypes of blacks that still define the roles we’re offered today. We have seen more black comedians bow to racist tropes, demean themselves-albeit unintentionally-for white audiences."
Chappelle has a number of shows since the show in Hartford.
He hasn't walked off the stage in any of them.
You can watch Chappelle's Hartford show by clicking on the link on the left, but be aware that it contains plenty of foul language.