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Chappelle’s Show’ ushers in new era of comedy

Molly Griffin | Monday, October 11, 2004

It is not often that a season of sketch comedy is great. In fact, it is rare if it even elicits laughs at all, as the current seasons of “Saturday Night Live” can attest to. The paucity of laughter is why SNL chooses to release “The Best of…” series and why late night talk shows have celebrity interviews and performances from bands interspersed between sketches. “Chappelle’s Show,” though, has changed the landscape with its bold and hilarious take on comedy, and has proven that we should expect more from sketch comedy. Dave Chappelle takes more risks and gets more laughs than any other comedian currently on television, and “Chappelle’s Show: Season One Uncensored” reveals why.Not for the easily offended, Chappelle is a risky comedian who isn’t afraid to deal with issues of race, gender or sexuality in unusual ways. Comedy Central, a channel known for its edgier shows like “South Park” and socially aware shows like “The Daily Show,” has allowed Chappelle to keep his comedic bite. Season One includes a host of now infamous skits, including: “The Mad Real World,” which turns MTV’s “The Real World” on its head by having one white guy living with six black people instead of the other way around; “The Black White Supremacist,” which centers on a blind member of the Ku Klux Klan who is unaware that he is black; and Tyrone Biggums, a “recovered” crack addict who gives anti-drug talks at schools that seem more commercials than condemnations. The show typically opens with a monologue from Chappelle, and often features musical guests like Talib Kweli, but most of the musical acts have been cut from the DVD release. Chappelle was a stand-up comedy prodigy at the age of 14, and because he was underage, his mother, an ordained Unitarian minister, would take him to performances. He got his start in film with Mel Brooks’ “Men in Tights” and has gone on to appear in movies such as “The Nutty Professor,” “Undercover Brother,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “Half Baked,” which he also co-wrote.Season One of “Chappelle’s Show” only contains 12 episodes, but it comes with enough bonus material to make up for the short season. Chappelle and co-creator Neal Brennan provide commentary tracks for five of their favorite episodes, there is a half an hour of deleted material and bloopers and there is unaired footage from one of the recurring sketches, “Ask a Black Dude with Paul Mooney,” which is essentially a question and answer session between Mooney and people on the street. The blooper reel isn’t as funny as it potentially could be, but the unaired footage from “Ask a Black Dude” is very entertaining.The audio and video for “Chappelle’s Show” are satisfactory. “Chappelle’s Show” is redefining comedy by doing something that is rare on television today – making people laugh. If you’ve never seen Chappelle, Season One just might make a fan out of you, and if you’re already a fan, it just might tide you over until the new season of his show comes to Comedy Central.