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One-On-One With Dave Chappelle

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Comedian Dave Chappelle is enjoying a successful run at First Avenue and he’s also added an extra show at the Pantages Theatre Saturday.

On Thursday afternoon, Chappelle sat down with his good friend, WCCO reporter Reg Chapman, to talk about his week in Minneapolis, what’s ahead and more.

He does not do interviews often, but he felt he owed his fans in Minnesota, who have been so good to him the three times he has visited.

Chappelle has extended his visit three times this week, and it’s all because of the fans.

Chappelle loves the Twin Cities and it appears his fans here love his comedy. Every show at First Avenue has sold out since tickets went on sale. This is his third trip to Minneapolis.

Reg Chapman: Welcome to Minneapolis — welcome back. Why do you keep coming back here? What is it about Minneapolis that attracts you?

Chappelle: This is like my third time working here. So the first time I was on tour during the show, I didn’t see anything. And the second time was last summer, when I was doing my bike trip across the country and I ended up staying here and doing a show. Had a great time. That was in a large part because people I knew in town that kind of showed me around. This time, I’ve been on tour 40 markets, this is a huge place to not to come and I felt like I had to come and it’s been great, a good decision.

Chapman: Why First Avenue of all venues?

Chappelle: You know what it is, the Purple Rain man. I was like 11 when Purple Rain came out so it has personally the same significance of playing Carnegie Hall or something. For me, personally. I’m not saying it is Carnegie Hall. I don’t know. I like doing stuff I saw in the movies.

Chapman: When you walked into the venue, what was the first thing that came to your mind on that stage, looking out in the audience?

Chappelle: That I’ll never write a joke that is as funny as Purple Rain the song was powerful. It’s very hard to close. What do I close with? I don’t know what was going through my mind. Forty cities, nothing goes through your mind. You just gotta keep doing shows.

Chapman: How have the fans received you? Minneapolis fans, Minnesota fans seem to love Dave Chappelle. I mean, you sell out within 20 minutes when you announced your Avenue shows.

Chappelle: Uh, how do people treat me when I’m like walking around? … Great, man. As a matter of fact, no one really bothers me. People talk to me, they say hi, sometimes do a little camera phone picture but for the most part, I’d say people been really nice. They’ve been great. I don’t expect much, you know what I mean? When I go out, what am I supposed to … as long as they stay within the certain parameters. I dunno. It’s been cool.

Chapman: One of our viewers had a question — she wants to know, what will you take away from Minnesota when you leave?

Chappelle: That’s a good question. Lots of culture here — you know, we mentioned Prince but the whole music scene here, this idea that the crowds here, you can tell they see live entertainment a lot. The way the crowds behaves, you can tell it’s a standout city in that respect. Some people they’ll come, especially if they’ve seen you on television, and they’ll go crazy as if you’re on television still, like you can’t hear them or see them. The crowds here, the etiquette of the audience is impeccable.

Chapman: One thing people who’ve seen your shows have said is that it’s incredible, you’re killing them. That it’s so intimate, that you’re having conversations with the crowd. … How do you do it here? To make it feel like it’s so special and you’re just talking to them?

Chappelle: You know, it’s interesting, Reg. Earlier this summer I did like a larger tour. And that was fine. I had the one mishap in Hartford that was in the press but for the most part, everything was great. But I prefer the smaller venues for that very reason. Because you can kind of experience the crowd more, they can experience you more. I’ve always kind of preferred having it in smaller venues. I have friends who are comedians that are good at doing, you know, rock star-sized venues and they have the kind of act for it. But I like when you use the word intimate because I feel like that’s kind of what, ideally, it should be. I know this is not a very funny interview but I’m hilarious, you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Chapman: Do you try out your comedy in front of family and friends?

Chappelle: Not really. I’m sure some jokes might be balled out of conversations I’ve had with friends or family but for the most part, you shouldn’t try your jokes out on anybody but audiences. You know what I mean? Yeah, keep it in context.

Chapman: I have to ask — you’re swoll. Some people were like, ‘Look at the new Dave.’ What are you doing?

Chappelle: Just getting my rest. Being like married for a long time, stuff like that. I go to the gym. While I’ve been touring, I have not been going to the gym that much, tho. As a matter of fact, I am coming out with a workout tape very soon. Alright Reg, I’m lying I made that up. I’m not coming out with a workout tape.

Chapman: Make sure I get one of those. I need to work out.

Chappelle: Forty-five day abs.

Chapman: Is that what it’s called?

Chappelle: Sure.

Chapman: What did you think of Amelia Santaniello?

Chappelle: That’s the news anchor I met earlier. She was a dynamic woman, to say the least. I met her and her husband at the same time. I couldn’t imagine having a desk across from my wife’s. And then going on air with my spouse. That’s pretty amazing.

Chapman: They do a good job — No. 1 news team in town.

Chappelle: I can tell by your studio that you guys have a very profitable business right here. I used to have one of these.

Chapman: Are you ever coming back to TV?

Chappelle: Well, I’m here now. And yes, I’m in talks for a new television show. … That’s a lie, too. First I’m going to do my exercise tape. No. I’m not going to say that I’m never going to do it because then I’d probably have to do it. And I’m not going to say I’m gonna do it because then for some reason, I probably couldn’t. I don’t know why but you’re never supposed to say what your intentions are.

Chapman: So it’s a big mystery.

Chappelle: To even myself. There’s no telling what I might do. You know. Hopefully, you will not have seen the last of me but I’m not making any outlandish declarations here on CBS.

Chapman: Anything you want to say to the people of Minnesota? I keep saying Minneapolis. But you haven’t been to St. Paul, yet, what’s up with that?

Chappelle: We haven’t rented a car. It’s been very cold the last couple of days and I just haven’t made it to St. Paul. However, a lady did compile a list of places I should go and check out in St. Paul. And it was a substantial list. It wasn’t like, empty.

Chapman: Anything I didn’t ask you, you want me to ask?

Chappelle: I dunno, Reg. I’ll give you five more minutes. You can ask me the most difficult questions you want to ask.

Chapman: Really? … OK, you say the crowds in Minneapolis have been one of the greatest. What’s the difference between a Minneapolis crowd and a Hartford crowd? What happened in Hartford?

Chappelle: Well I’ll tell you what they do here that they didn’t do in Hartford … Listen. You know, they talked over me. Honestly, the crowd was … I don’t know what happened in Hartford, to be honest. It was like the movie, “Flight” when the flight took off and then after a couple of minutes, Denzel was like, ‘Nope, not going to land this baby. It’s not going to be like one of those days. We’re going down.’ It’s just that show. And it happens, you know. I mean, at this stage of the game, if it happens, it’s very public. Audiences have a different attention span than they did six or seven years ago because of the internet and a lot of things, you know. And I dunno, it was just one of those nights. Sorry I don’t have a better, more comprehensible explanation. But it’s one of those experiences that if you go through it, you just don’t think about it that much. I tell jokes about it. That’s useful but for the most part it’s like … I hear the mayor got pissed at me for my comments.

Chapman: Yeah, but you were harsh though.

Chappelle: Me? Yeah, but c’mon I’m a comedian. I don’t mean that stuff. And he’s the mayor, he’s got thicker skin than that. And who should feel bad? Him or me? I didn’t boo Hartford. They booed me.

Chapman: The status of comedy — what do you think about these new guys? What do you think of the fall of Katt Williams and what’s happening with Kevin Hart?

Chappelle: I don’t know if Katt fell though, I think Katt’s just writing another chapter in what’s going to be an outstanding book one day. Kevin Hart, I think Kevin’s a real nice dude — I think both of them are funny dudes. And I’ve known them for a long time. Kevin, I’ve known longer than I’ve known a guy like Katt but comedy is one of those things where there’s so many funny people out there who the large audience might not be aware of but every walk of life has a comedian representing them, whether they know that comedian or not. There’s somebody like everybody doing stand-up.

Chapman: Why do you blush when people call you a comedic genius?

Chappelle: That’s heavy, man. You know what I mean? I’m not good at taking compliments even in an interview situation, I cant just hide behind jokes. I feel uncomfortable and you’re a friend of mine.

Chappelle has added shows at the Pantages Theatre on Friday and Saturday nights. If you haven’t seen his latest stand-up, get a ticket, you don’t want to miss it.

Tickets for Saturday night’s show in Minneapolis will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. These tickets will also get one into a charity basketball game at Target Center right after the show.

We’ll have exclusive video of the charity game only on WCCO.

Chappelle is also planning to donate personal funds to help the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines.

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