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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Inside The Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle
Inside The Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle
Shout Factory // PG // November 7, 2006
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jamie S. Rich | posted October 23, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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THE SHOW:

There is not a lot to dissect when it comes to the DVD of Inside the Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle. Your mileage may vary depending on either how you feel about the series or its subject for this episode. If you like either, you're going to like this DVD. If you are on the fence about Dave Chappelle, however, this may be the moment that puts you over the top.

Say what you want about James Lipton and his show, but for twelve years, he has interviewed actors about their craft in front of an audience of students and quite often gone to depths that you don't see very often in our age of easy-to-digest information. He spends enough time with his subjects to really get them talking, and through insightful questions and, yes, a little ass kissing, he creates a safe zone for people to really open up about the job that they do. Sure, over the years the sycophancy has gotten out of hand and the choice of actors has sometimes been questionable (Drew Barrymore, Teri Hatcher, etc.), but when he's on, James Lipton is on.

Proof positive of Lipton's intelligence is that when he gets a performer like Dave Chappelle, he knows enough to step back and let the actor take over his stage. According to Lipton's new introduction, Dave Chappelle spoke for close to three hours. The Inside the Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle DVD release has the broadcast version, which is cut down to 90 minutes (and, annoyingly, keeps in the bleeps when Chappelle--and even Lipton, in one instance--curses). The edited running time does not harm the discussion. Chappelle still has plenty of room to speak his mind.

The usual Inside the Actors Studio topics are discussed. Lipton begins with the formative years, asking about childhood and schooling, and then leads Chappelle through his resume, from bit roles in movies like The Nutty Professor through the success of Chappelle's Show and Block Party. The comedian speaks honestly about everything, about what has worked for him and what has not, and even broaches the then taboo subject of his quitting his own TV show and heading to Africa. That segment of the program alone will convince you that Dave Chappelle is an insightful, thoughtful social commentator, but if you need any further proof, Lipton has chosen excellent clips from the TV show and Dave's stand-up performances to give audiences a real understanding of the jokeman's appeal. Listening to the two break down why a joke works and all the points it touches on is fascinating and made me think a lot differently about the subtle art of intelligent humor.

Anyone who saw Block Party already knows what a genial personality Dave Chappelle is. Inside the Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle drives that home, and witnessing a gifted individual speak candidly for an hour and a half is a special treat. It exposes how vapid most television talk shows are, how little discourse actually passes between those more famous hosts and their very famous guests. For anyone interested in acting, comedy, or even how important issues are discussed in America, this DVD is an entertaining must.

THE DVD

Video:
Shot in full frame for television, and given an excellent transfer.

Sound:
There is no special sound mix, but it's not a problem since the program really is just two guys talking.

Extras:
There are approximately fifteen minutes of deleted scenes, each an illuminating anecdote from Dave Chappelle, including stories about meeting Whoopi Goldberg, auditioning for Mel Brooks, and his unsuccessful pitch of Chappelle's Show to HBO.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Highly Recommended. The math is simple. Dave Chappelle + a good interviewer = 90 minutes of fascinating conversation. Funny, insightful, and at times, touching. You've gotta love Inside the Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle.

Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.

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