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CHAPPELLE'S SHOW
Season One

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Dave Chappelle
Directors: Various
Audio: English Dolby Stereo
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 283 Minutes
Release Date: February 24, 2004

“Welcome back, I still haven’t been cancelled yet…but I’m working on it…and I think this next piece might be the one to do it. This is probably the wildest thing I’ve ever done in my career.”

Shows ***1/2

I think that Comedy Central should be given a Lifetime Achievement Award for pushing the boundaries of what can be aired on basic cable television. The first show that perfectly illustrates this notion is South Park, the show that pretty much put the network on the map. Then early last year, actor and comedian Dave Chappelle premiered his new sketch comedy series, appropriately titled Chappelle's Show, perhaps the rawest and most daring show of its type to ever come across the television circuit.

I remember catching the last sketch of the pilot episode. Right afterward, as I dried the tears on my face which came as a result of laughing so hard, I knew right then and there that Dave has been given complete control of the show, and that Comedy Central respects him enough to let him have control. As for the sketch I am referring to, it's one that will shock you not just by how extreme it is, but by how much genius it is.

The quote above is what precedes the segment, which is a send up of the news program Frontline. The subject is that of a man who is attempting to revive the white supremacist movement to extreme heights. The man's name is Clayton Bigsby, and when the reporter tracks him down, he discovers that the man is not only blind, but black as well, making him a Black White Supremacist. Chappelle's is a pure genius at spoofing all kinds of racial issues, and this sketch has to be seen to be believed.

Needless to say, Chappelle's Show is not for the easily offended. Even those who are used to the antics on the more standard sketch shows like Saturday Night Live or Mad TV may get knocked out by the excessive lengths that Dave goes to get a laugh. The only difference between this show and ones like the current SNL is that none of the segments on Chappelle's Show fall flat. The only falling that will be taking place is perhaps when you find yourself falling to the floor, laughing in hysterics.

The groundbreaking first season of the series includes many outstandingly funny and memorable sketches. They include a training video for employment at a copy place, which basically encourages you not to do your job; an outrageous spin on The Real World called The Mad Real World, in which the six roommates consist of 5 black people and 1 unsuspecting white guy sharing a complex in a New Jersey ghetto.

Additional sketches include a preview for a movie about Dave Chappelle's life story, spoofing both 8 Mile and Antwone Fisher, a commercial for the Special Edition DVD of Roots with some newly discovered outtakes, and segments called Real Movies, which shows real versions of such movies as Ghost, Pretty Woman and The Matrix.

Of all the sketches, I'd have to say the one I found the most gut-wrenchingly funniest was a mockumentary look into The Player Haters' Ball, an annual celebration of haters from all around the globe who hate on everyone who has more than they do. Chappelle's character, the notorious Silky Johnson, is the biggest hater around. I would like to mention a quote from this segment, but the fact is I can't because of the extreme content. I guarantee, though, you will be laughing every minute of this segment.

Raw, groundbreaking, and undeniably funny in every sense of the word, Chappelle's Show is a nonstop laughfest that is sure to garner big time reactions from those who watch it. Be prepared to have some tissue handy, not because you'll be crying tears of sadness, but because you will most likely be laughing so incredibly hard, you won't have much of a choice.

Video ***

Since Chappelle's Show comes courtesy of TV, the picture brought to us from Paramount, consists of the standard full screen format. Usually, we at DMC don't find ourselves fond of the format, but in the case of this release, I don't see any need to complain, as the picture comes across quite clean and clear, and doesn't appear to keep much out of the frame. Even though certain television shows do get the occasional anamorphic widescreen makeover, this presentation appears to be just as good without the treatment.

Audio **1/2

The 2.0 track offering, which is a standard offering for nearly all the television releases, does what it can. Although several cases of music playback do offer something of jolt on the part of the channel playback, the action is reduced to the front, for the most part. Not a weak performance at all, just very much what you should expect from this sound format for a television show.

Features ***

Included on this 2 Disc package is selected episode commentary by Dave Chappelle and co-creator Neil Brennan, about 30 minutes of deleted footage and bloopers with optional commentary. Also featured is extra footage of the segment "Ask a Black Dude" with comedian Paul Mooney, and a look at sketches from the shows Reno 911 and Crank Yankers.

Summary:

Chappelle's Show is a superbly executed comedy enterprise, headlined by the razor sharp genius of Dave Chappelle's truly edgy and envelope-pushing antics. Here's hoping that the show will remain for a while, and future seasons will make it to DVD.

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