Dave Chapelle highlights South Beach Comedy Festival at The Fillmore

Dave Chapelle highlights SoBe Comedy Festival at The Fillmore

Howard Shultz, Starbucks chairman/CEO

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here is a lot to laugh about concerning Miami Beach, so much that many inhabitants from snooty mainland neighborhoods rarely go there except during the time when they were between ages 18-30.

A side from the intermittent, obligatory clubbing, folks from the Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay would rather do Cocowalk, Sunset, Miracle Mile or Brickell than deal with the effort that a beach trip takes (Calle Ocho — nunca!).

So, I shrugged, too, when I learned that the 10th annual South Beach Comedy Festival runs April 8-11 at The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater and that it includes a number of notable comedians. As is Miami style, cumbersome names like the venue itself seem laughable enough. Then Dave Chappelle signed on.

Now, all hell has broken loose. Getting a ticket to his show seems like getting one to the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight.

Dave Chapelle highlights SoBe Comedy Festival at The Fillmore

Dave Chapelle

Maybe Chappelle will address race as Starbucks chairman/CEO Howard Schultz encouraged baristas to do when they begin conversations with customers, hoping to avoid any such comeuppance.

Suddenly that Flat White looked browner or whiter than previously thought. This campaign was not a comedy routine, even if — according to panicked pundits far and wide — it did not go over well.

A sign of the times reveals that everyone knows exactly why it failed, though nobody can suggest how we humans might better comprehend this ever vexing problem, which is obviously a problem because so many people refuse to acknowledge that it is a problem.

Dave Chappelle would make this funny.

When all else fails in 2015 post racial America, we can always blame President Barack Obama, who has both solved and caused America’s race problem, and was so funny badgering his humorless foes at the White House correspondents’ dinner. What some of our brothers and sisters say about the leader of the free world is so vicious that it would be funny if it weren’t frightening.

While I admit there are real fears that dwarf the short-lived, imaginary Homeland Security threat advisory scale – remember the orange high and elevated yellow scales – any anxiety over ISIL decapitating someone at Chipotle in Pinecrest seems a bit of a stretch. In any case, its chickens are already held captive in spaces where they face the inevitable sentence that all factory-farmed animals discover no matter how much fuzzy rhetoric touts it’s natural, responsibly raised, humane pretense. Again, this is not funny, but Dave Chappelle could make it hilarious.

Before Starbucks tried to get funny — and Chipotle perfected clever — black comedians used race and politics to lighten heavy loads and skewer racism itself. Dick Gregory, Nipsey Russell, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan come to mind.

Then Dave Chappelle came to Comedy Central, got a few Emmy nominations for his irreverent and controversial show, developed a cult following, refused to bow to pressure from network execs bent on mainstreaming him, freaked out, became reclusive and vanished. His hot topic: Race, not corporate America’s favorite topic until Starbucks.

Supposedly, Chappelle turned down a $50-million contract before disappearing to South Africa. Now he has quietly returned and is ready to make somebody in Miami Beach laugh. Whether he will be funny or not, we will have to wait. There will be two Chappelle shows at The Fillmore. Good luck with getting the tickets.

Carl Rachelson is a teacher at Palmer Trinity School and a regular contributor to the Pinecrest Tribune. He may be contacted by addressing email to crachelson@palmertrinity.org.


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