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Platinum Comedy Series: Dave Chappelle - Killin' Them Softly

Urban Works // Unrated // July 15, 2003
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted July 4, 2003 | E-mail the Author
Dave Chappelle is a funny man. I've been a fan and looked for his appearances for a few years now, even before his Comedy Central show or his movie Half Baked. While his Comedy Central show is often quite funny and, well, how should I put his kindly?... Half Baked has its audience,... really Chapelle is clearly comfortable and most gifted on the stage. It is obvious he has been doing comedy since he was a teen. Every time I've seen him doing standup, he always seems relaxed, natural, ready, never lost, never forced, and the jokes flow steadily. Like Lenny Bruce and Richard Pyror, Chapelle structures his material mainly as stories with several punchlines instead of cut and dry Seinfeldian observations or one-liners.

Killin' Them Softly begins with segment about the differences between blacks and whites. He talks about how things have changed and you'll now see streetcorner thugs with a white guy or two in their crew and jokes that those white guys are the most dangerous ones because they had to do something really dangerous to get the brothers respect. He also talks about how he still fears calling the police, like when he had a burglar because he's afraid they'll come in and automatically think he is the thief because his house is too nice, then club him over the head, and one of the officers will say to the other, "I've seen this before Johnson, back when I was a rookie. Apparently this nigger broke in the house and hung up pictures of his family."

One of Chappelle's better bits revolves around his fear of the ghetto. The tale involves his having reached some amount of fame, being left in a limo in the middle of the ghetto at 3AM, and he is so paranoid he is suspicious of a baby that is standing unsupervised on the corner. He then goes into a bit about children's television the details why Pepe Le Pew is a rapist and Oscar the Grouch teaches kids to ignore the homeless. His biting irreverence is apparent in why he wouldn't mind being the first black President. He says he wont fear assassination by any racial groups because his vice president will be Mexican. "You can shoot me, but you're only going to open the border up. Isn't that right Vice President Santiago?"- "Si."

Since it was made in 2000, there is some material no longer socially relevant, like the Clinton- Lewinsky affair, but his observations are still funny. One of his amazements is the fame of Clinton being something he never thought of, as he says, "Imagine being so famous that someone can suck your dick and then they are famous."

I guess what was a little disappointing was that, being a fan, some of the jokes/bits he does are well-worn material. I guess it is one of those things you cannot avoid, repeating tested routines people may have already seen him do on several tv appearances. One of these, which I've seen him do better, involves the positive aspects of racism, like the fact that black people are rarely taken hostage because they make bad bargaining chips.

The special ends with what seems to be part of the comedians text book, closing your set with relationship material. As he discusses the differences between differences between men and woman, it is all fair game, balanced, and far less mean spirited than say Andrew Dice Clay or Eddie Murphy. He states, "Chivalry is dead, and women killed it.", but he also criticizes women for buying into women's glamour magazines and how they give women the wrong impressions on how they should feel about themselves and how to please a man. The changes in fashion are also discussed and why provocative dress gives men mixed signals. Such as, when women spurn men's leering looks or hormone addled advances and say things like, "Just because I'm dressed like this doesn't make me a whore." He compares it to his walking down the street in a cop uniform and some one asking him for help. "Look buddy, just because I'm dressed this way doesn't make me a cop."

The DVD:

Picture: Full-Screen. Standard. Now, I watched this on HBO, and the DVD is slight, slight, improvement over my cable reception. Obviously it is pretty simple deal, Chapelle and a stage. Picture is adequately sharp and colorful with no technical glitches.

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Simulated Surround. Really not much to say. You hear Chappelle. You hear the audience laughing. There's some music at the opening and closing credits. The sound is fine, everything comes though clear and distinct. No problems.

Extras: Chapter Selections--- UrbanWorks previews of other comedy specials like D.L. Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer, and Steve Harvey.

Conclusion: At sixty minutes it isn't really a feature, and the label of "Platinum Series" is one of those misleading bogus sales terms to rope in consumers because the disc offers no real extras. Certainly if you are a big fan of comedy specials, the replay value will be high so it is worth picking up. But, if you are just a casual fan of Chapelle, the presentation offers little in terms of bulk and would be a better rental.

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