The best to ever do it.
The greatest of all time.
A genius in every way.
Those were just a few of the tributes to Dave Chappelle — the brilliant and divisive comedian and actor known for Chappelle’s Show, Killin’ Them Softly, Half-Baked and A Star Is Born, as well as a slew of recent Netflix specials that have split both sides and audiences — seen online today.
Merriam-Webster defines tribute as a “gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection,” and respect, gratitude, and affection were very much on display as Chappelle marked a major milestone.
Born 50 years ago Thursday in Washington, D.C., the master storyteller, wordsmith and joke writer counted down to his half-century birthday Wednesday night with a Madison Square Garden Show that proved that for all the debate surrounding him, his popularity hasn’t waned in any way.
Among the guests on hand to help celebrate his 50th were fellow comics Luenell Campbell, Earthquake, and Jeff Ross. Then the Madison Square Garden crowd was treated to sets by Jon Stewart — who had a cameo in Chappelle’s 1998 Half-Baked — and Chris Rock, a close friend with whom Chappelle has toured.
After Chappelle’s set, he brought out hip-hop artists Da Baby, De La Soul, and The Roots.
“EVERY JOKE was hilarious true in Chappelle fashion. This show confirmed to me what I already thought, DAVE CHAPPELLE IS THE COMEDY GOAT!!!” one fan wrote on Facebook.
“There is no comparison to Dave. He is an expert story teller. A genius in every way. His setups, and punchlines were legendary to see,” another fan declared.
Another described the night as “a straight up absurd celebration and the best live comedic experience I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life.”
“It was incredible. The entire night,” another fan wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday, Chappelle welcomed Ross, Shane Gillis, George Wallace, Aziz Ansari and Donnell Rawlings to the stage for the first MSG show of his new tour, called the “It’s a Celebration B—- Tour.”
On Friday, he welcomed another massive celebrity guest: Justin Timberlake, who delighted the crowd with his performance of “Cry Me a River.”
Chappelle will also perform two more weekend shows at the Garden.
Chappelle has received criticism in recent years for his jokes about trans people in his latest specials. His latest special, The Closer, in 2021, led to complaints and a walkout by Netflix employees.
But on his 50th birthday, as Chappelle looked back on a comedy career that began in D.C. more than three decades ago, his fans seemed happy to set the debate aside, focus on his achievements — and celebrate.
Main image: Dave Chappelle in his 2019 Netflix special “Sticks and Stones,” courtesy of Netflix
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with the guest at Dave Chapelle’s show Friday.