By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — Though it is only the first month of the year, there’s no doubt that one of the biggest comedy tours that will be in arenas throughout 2023 is getting underway next week. That’s the third tour for the duo of Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock. It kicks off Jan. 20 in Oklahoma City. They will play five dates in cities across Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina. Their last joint tour came last year, when they appeared in San Diego, San Francisco and Phoenix. They also toured the U.K. in September of that same year.
Both men are known for routines that address a variety of social situations and issues. Both have seen their fair share of controversy, but they are also very much working in a tradition established by such performers as Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor, though neither has also done as much social justice activism as Gregory.
Each had his share of headlines last season. For Rock, it was the infamous Oscar moment with the Will Smith Slap. For Chappelle it was controversy over a performance on “Saturday Night Live,” and repeated claims dating back to a prior Netflix special that some of his material contained anti-Semitic and transphobic comments. Chappelle has repeatedly denied those contentions.
A press release for the tour makes it clear that there will be no tolerance for anyone trying to record parts of the show on any devices. It says It not only is smartphone recording prohibited, but also says “while concertgoers maintain possession of their phones throughout the night, all phones and smart watches will be secured in pouches that will be unlocked at the end of the show. “No cellphones, cameras or recording devices will be allowed at this show. Anyone caught with a cellphone in the venue will be immediately ejected.”
On ownership rights, the release states that “any jokes and sketches delivered during (the) performance…may not be copied, translated, transmitted, displayed, distributed, or reproduced verbatim” without express prior consent from Pilot Boy Productions, a film and TV production company founded by Chappelle.
There is no Nashville date for this show. It does come to Memphis Jan. 23 at the FedEX Forum.