Hot Off An SNL All-Timer, Chappelle Gives House of Blues Houston Three Nights

Dave Chappelle is making notes, taking names.
Dave Chappelle is making notes, taking names. Screengrab from Dave Chappelle: Sticks and Stones
No stand-up comic in America offers a less predictable show than Dave Chappelle. The lion of stand-up has proven to be one of the fastest writers in the business, and show no qualms about releasing his quality material feverishly, often capturing the zeitgeist in sets that range from 15 minutes to five hours.

Case in point, it was hardly a week ago that Chappelle boldly laid down nearly 20 minutes of piping hot takes on the devastating toll of the endless election week and the country's sorrow in the face of loss. Chain smoking and dressed to the nines, Chapelle looked almost out of time against that ageless 8H backdrop — more evocative of the hosting stints of a George Carlin or a Sam Kinison 40 years back, than Adele or J.J. Watt, both of who have hosted this calendar year.

With surgical precision, Chappelle lambasted neither Trump nor Biden, but mourning and systematic exploitation. (While also promoting his seminal Comedy Central series' move to the streaming giant HBO Max). Chappelle succeeds in a hat trick where most would fumbling attempting a single — he's effortless, he's hilarious and he can cut to the gut of a concept you might have spent your life wandering around the edges of. An unparalleled talent. And Houston gets him for three nights. 

House of Blues announced quite out of the blue that Chappelle would headline from November 19 through November 21 for a socially-distanced, masks-required evening designed for group audiences. Tickets must be purchased in clusters of four, and audiences will be rapid tested for COVID-19 prior to entry.

While Chappelle has made headlines for his developing material in person during the pandemic, often hosting stacked sets in his native Yellow Springs, Ohio,  you truly never know who you can expect to show up on the bill. Like his now iconic 8:46 set in response to the George Floyd killings and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests released by Netflix, Chappelle often hits hardest when he manages to pivot into nuanced dramatic points, and filthy hilarious social commentary. (Candace Owens and Laura Ingram feel Chappelle's tongued scorching, while Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are lionized for refusing to "shut up and dribble.") 

Fellow comic and Houstonian Mo Amer was part of the famed Dave Chappelle - Jon Stewart double bill that swung through only three cities stateside in the summer of 2018.

As Amer told the Houston Press in 2019, he recalls how he got hooked up with the sketch favorite back during his comeback period after Chappelle left his highly rated sketch series amid filming its third season. "I been with Dave Chappelle as well, he loved me and started touring me right at the beginning of his comeback. For the last seven years I’ve been touring with him."

While not confirmed for Chappelle's House of Blues run, Amer affirms the notion that best in their crafts often like to take stage alongside the Star Is Born co-star. "I met Jon [Stewart]," Amer recalls, "like every cool thing I’ve done, it was through Dave. We were at Radio City Music Hall, and I’m about to go on after the warm-up act. The show’s getting started, I see Jon Stewart on the side and I had heard he was gonna be the special guest star comedian at Radio City during Dave’s run in 2017. Then the stage manager walks up to me, as they’re announcing my name and tells me I’m doing 15 minutes instead of 20 and I’m coming on after Chance the Rapper to do another 5. Then I had to walk onstage in front of 500 people, and I’m editing my set on the fly. Just completely destiny though, I totally murdered so good.

"Then I go back again and Jon was just like, that was amazing. He saw me have to edit all that stuff, and then Chance the Rapper does an hour, murders the whole room of course with high energy – then I have to go back on and do another five! So I do it, murder and then come back to Jon Stewart, Chappelle standing in the wings and a bunch of other celebrities I don’t remember and I didn’t care about much besides those two, honestly because they’re my heroes... I was just laughing. It was one of those situations where we just hit it off so well. When Dave and Jon did a tour together, it was a natural fit for me to come along because I’d toured with Dave for so long."

After an incredible run winning the Grammy Award for Best Comedy album three consecutive years, clocking in a few Emmy statues for writing and performance, and being the first major act to return to a stage during the times of Corona, the entertainment history books of this era will have Chappelle's name flowing out of the margins. Thankfully, the 47-year-old shows no sign of slowing down, and if Chappelle's relationship to the ever-changing news cycle is any indications, this crazy transitional time may mean Houston's primed for a front row seat to a best that's yet to come.

Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 19, 8 p.m. on Friday, November 20, and 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 21, at House of Blues Houston, 1204 Caroline. For information, call 888-402-5837 or visit $130-$647

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Vic covers the comedy scene, in Houston and beyond. When not writing articles, he's working on his scripts, editing a podcast, doing some funny make-em-ups or preaching the good word of supporting education in the arts.
Contact: Vic Shuttee