Dave Chappelle Returning to Stand-Up

In 2005, Dave Chappelle was the biggest comedian in the world.  He was the star of the popular Comedy Central show Chappelle Show and he had just come off of a stand-up special in 2004.

But right before season 3 of his hit television show was to begin, Chappelle walked away, leaving $50 million on the table and fleeing to South Africa.  He’s made the occasional surprise appearance at comedy clubs and theaters in the eight years since his exodus from the spotlight, but it appears Chappelle is ready to work consistently again.

Dave Chappelle - Andrew oh:The New York Times

Dave Chappelle | (Andrew Oh/The New York Times)

The comedian is headlining the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival, a new 15-city tour presented by the Funny or Die website that begins Friday, August 23, in Austin, Texas.

The mystique of Dave Chappelle has grown in all the time he’s been away.  He has only done two high-profile interviews, The Oprah Winfrey Show and Inside the Actors Studio, and he hasn’t appeared on any podcasts, talk shows or even movies.  He joined Twitter last year, then quit after 11 tweets.

Known for his laid-back delivery and sharp timing, Chappelle never seemed comfortable in the public eye.  But the popularity of his show, mixed with the long hours it required, took its tole on the comedian and he felt he needed a break.

It’s refreshing when someone with that much success decides to put things on hold.  He wasn’t happy with the direction his show was taking so he decided to do something about.  He didn’t allow the money to get in the way of his creativity or happiness.

But now it appears he’s ready to do what he was probably meant to do all along, be a stand-up comedian.  At a time when comedians seem to be all over the place promoting themselves and their work (T.V. shows, books, comedy specials, movies), Chappelle is going back to his comfort zone on stage.

This comeback will spark a lot of attention.  Hopefully not enough for the brilliant comedian to disappear for another eight years.

Netflix Instant Pick: Zodiac

The best film of the last decade is now available on Netflix streaming.  How’s that for a recommendation.

In 2007, director David Fincher released his second serial-killer movie, Zodiac.  Many fans, myself included, wondered why the filmmaker would even attempt to follow up his masterpiece, Seven, with another story in the genre.  It seemed destined for disappointment.

But then I saw it in the theater, one of the few who did that year, and not only did he surprise me with how good it was, he managed to tell this particular serial-killer story in a way that was completely different from Seven.

Based on the book by Robert Graysmith, the film follows a young Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he works as a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle.  One day a letter arrives at the newspaper revealing that someone known as the Zodiac has been killing people in the Bay Area.  The killer continually sends letters to the paper and the police, taunting them with cryptic messages and clues.  Over time the validity of the letters become increasingly suspicious, almost as if the Zodiac is taking credit for murders he didn’t commit, so the case remains open until the police can build a strong enough profile on potential suspects.

Zodiac - citizens screenings

Zodiac | (Citizens Screenings)

When the case runs cold, Graysmith decides to focus all his efforts on discovering who the killer really is despite a lack of cooperation from local authorities.  Spanning four decades, the film follows his unrelenting focus and attempts to discover who the Zodiac killer really was.

Unlike Seven and his other films, Zodiac is probably the least flashy of Fincher’s work.  The film focuses on the process of investigating murder cases, which can be drawn-out and laborious.  But this adds to the level of believability.  No you won’t find any car chases or shootouts (Or creative Fincher shots), just people poring over case files, interviewing suspects and doing a lot of research.

This might not sound particularly exciting.  For some people I know, the film’s deliberate pace, and 2 1/2 hour running time, proved to be too much.  It also doesn’t help that the film’s ending isn’t exactly resolved.

But if you enjoy stories of obsession, as well as those great political thrillers of the ’70s (All the President’s Men, The Parallax View, The Conversation), than Zodiac is worth the time and effort.  The performances are good across the board (Particularly from Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo) and Fincher’s signature dark cinematography perfectly conveys a sense of dread and fear.  Oh, and the music is creepy as hell.  You’ll never hear Hurdy Gurdy Man the same way again.

I like to think of Zodiac as a methodical procedural.  Every conceivable thing about the Zodiac case, whether you believe it or not, is in the film and that speaks to Fincher’s almost fetishistic attention to detail.  It’s a throwback thriller that is more about the journey rather than the destination, and sometimes that ends up being more compelling.

Photo of the Week: Drastic Measures to Curb Cheating

Who didn’t cheat at some point in school?  We’ve all been backed into a desperate corner of laziness or simply idiocy of a particular school subject.  We’re not proud of it, but it happened and the planning of not getting caught seemed to become our primary focus (Rather than, you know, LEARNING THE INFORMATION).

I bring this up because apparently cheating has become quite rampant in Bangkok’s Kasetsart University.  So much so that the school has developed (And hopefully patented), a sort of…head dress for its students.  The anti-deceit paper helmet was developed for the students to wear during their midterm exams and this fantastic photo was captured.

Bangkok Kasestart University - Facebook

Bangkok Kasestart University | (Facebook)

Apparently The Flying Nun is quite popular in Bangkok and they’re holding auditions for the musical after class.  Why didn’t Dean Pritchard think of this in Old School?

I can understand doing this in junior high or high school but college students!  Come on, you’re all adults know.  I mean, how bad can it be that the school actually took the time to design and manufacture anti-peripheral helmets?  Maybe it’s the teachers.  Maybe the tests are too hard.  Hey, I’m just looking at this from both sides.  I was one of those students not too long ago.

I don’t know how well these students did on their midterms, but if there’s one thing they did achieve, it’s the WDTWG Photo of the Week.  Congratulations!