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The hilariously dangerous world of Dave Chappelle

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

In a way, it's probably a good thing there isn't a lot of water cooler chatter about "Chappelle's Show," the half-hour sketch comedy that began its second season on Comedy Central last week.

Miniature riots would break out all over corporate Pittsburgh if well-meaning white folks suddenly felt "liberal" enough to quote Dave Chappelle's more hilarious skits to their black colleagues out of a misplaced sense of "enlightened" brotherhood.

The infamous "Blind Supremacy" sketch from last season comes to mind. No one who saw it will ever forget the conceit of a blind Klansman, played by an obviously black, but hooded Chappelle, rallying his followers with cheers of "White Power."

The faux supremacist has made a minor fortune making speeches at racist gatherings. Still, he doesn't know that he's black because he's never seen himself in the mirror. The childhood buddy who chauffeurs him in a pickup truck won't level with him because he's afraid it could kill the golden goose of fiery anti-black rhetoric. As long as he stays hooded, the suckers who pay to hear him preach aren't the wiser, either.

When the blind Klansman rips the hood from his head in response to the crowd's entreaties to "show his face," all hell breaks loose.

Later, we learn from the skit's narrator that the blind Klansman eventually divorced his white wife because he couldn't tolerate being married to "a nigger lover."

Pittsburgh native Rusty Cundeiff directed "Blind Supremacy" along with a hilarious "The Real World" satire called "The Mad Real World" in which a white frat boy moves into a public housing unit with nearly a dozen black roommates embodying the absolute worst urban stereotypes. Of course, they torture and humiliate him after seducing his girlfriend and stabbing his father.

Last week, Chappelle launched his second season with a sketch in which celebrities who straddle racial fences are drafted by races jockeying for advantage. Using their first round pick, blacks corral the half-Thai, half-black Tiger Woods. "So long fried rice, hello fried chicken," a delighted Tiger says. As soon as he declares his racial allegiance, Tiger loses his endorsement deals. Sitting in the ESPN anchor booth, Chappelle sneers, "Tough break, nigga."

Whites draft Colin Powell, but the black delegation offers to throw Condi Rice into the mix, hoping they can trick whites into releasing Eminem. The white delegation won't be hustled, but graciously offers to repatriate O.J. Simpson so he can be "black again," a deal that the black delegation foolishly accepts.

"I'm starting to realize that these sketches in the wrong hands are dangerous," Chappelle said in the introduction to "The Niggar Family," a parody of a 1950s television sitcom airing tomorrow. The sketch revolves around an incendiary double entendre -- a white family saddled with a surname that sounds like a racial slur.

Chappelle plays the amazed milkman who loves to shout the suburban family's name: "Good morning, Niggars. This is my favorite family to deliver milk to, the Niggars." When he runs into only son Timmy Niggar at an exclusive restaurant he says, "I'll bet you'll get the finest table a Niggar ever got in this restaurant." Gritting his teeth through laughter and clutching his chest, Chappelle says, "Oh, this racism is killing me inside."

These days, nobody makes me laugh louder than Dave Chappelle. An upcoming episode of "Chappelle's Show" will explore how Fox News would've used "fair and balanced" reporting to cover the Civil War.

This show makes you laugh until it hurts too much not to laugh at the racist idiocy we typically take so seriously.


Tony Norman can be reached at 412-263-1631 or tnorman@post-gazette.com.

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