It took Dave Chappelle’s first breath headlining the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival Saturday night to say what he’s wanted to say for two days: “F*** Hartford, from the bottom of my heart.”
Some in the Hartford, Conn. crowd late Thursday reported on social media that while headlining the festival, Chappelle told a few jokes, but then stopped because of loud heckling. Videos posted online show Chappelle responding to the hecklers, and later being booed as he walked off the stage.
But Saturday was Chappelle’s turn to tell his side of the story to cheers and laughter: “I know you guys read in the paper, I took a nasty spill…but I swear to God it wasn’t my fault, and I promise you, contrary to popular belief I’m not on drugs,” Chappelle told a crowd of thousands at the standup festival in Tinley Park.
“That crap was evil,” Chappelle said, calling the Hartford audience “torturers, an arena full of suburban torturers, young white alcoholics, just booing and talking all kinds of s***.”
The crowd roared with laughter at every Hartford joke.
Chappelle likened Thursday’s show to what the crowd must have felt like the night Roy of Siegfried and Roy was maimed by a tiger: “That crowd feels lucky they got to see me freak out…You go to the tiger show, you don’t go to see someone be safe. In the back of your mind, you’re thinking this mother****** might get bit. I’d like to see that for $35.”
A rousing 42-minutes later, Chappelle ended his set joking he’d look up all addresses for the Hartford crowd: “I’m going to get the addresses and I’m going to get their telephone numbers. I’m not going to hurt anybody. I’m going to call up those mother******* to finish my set.”
There were warning signs against heckling prior to Chappelle’s set, literally. Signs across the amphitheater, and on the video screens prior to his performance read: “No cellphones, texting, tweeting, heckling, talking, cameras, recording devices of any kind during the show. Violators will be ejected. Thank you for your cooperation.”
New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords took the stage just before Chappelle, and poked fun at his bad Thursday night: “Don’t YouTube us. We already look bad on our own.”
The festival marks Chappelle’s big comeback to stand-up comedy after ending his Comedy Central series “Chappelle’s Show” in 2005.
Here’s what happened Thursday night in Hartford.
Warning: strong language