Dave Chappelle’s Free Show Attracts Thousands at Portland’s Pioneer Square
The brother just thought 200 people would show for this “secret” but impromptu show. Instead, he got an estimated 10,000, mostly 20-something fans, “creating one of the most remarkable spontaneous gatherings in Portland history,” said Rachel Bachman of The Oregonian.
This man is missed, yall.
Chappelle said he told four people at the gym that he’d seen a stage set up in Pioneer Square and he thought it would be fun to tell a few jokes there.
He also may have told one person at the Local 35 clothing store.
By twilight Tuesday a crowd of young faces had begun to coalesce at Pioneer Courthouse Square. A few hours later, thousands were hanging out, all self-organized via social networking, text messaging, Facebook updates and Twitter.
Just when they thought he wouldn’t show, he did, at 1 a.m. with a small portable sound system and a mike. He thanked the cops for not arresting him, and cracked one about former First Lady Nancy Reagan. His performance only lasted one hour.
Many couldn’t see or hear him, but didn’t give a damn. There were no fights, or any other disruptions, according to the police, who accordingly corralled the large gathering by shutting off streets and rerouting traffic. Chappelle was astounded at how many people actually showed up, although his disbelief was suspended briefly when some people stripped and started going around (and climbing around) naked in the Square, a misdemeanor that surely would have invited the cops to wade in.
“Put your clothes on, please,” he said.
“We were at a bar, we got a text message that Dave Chappelle was gonna be here,” one fan told KGW.
“I heard from word of mouth and believed it,” said Adam Roberts.
“You look around and you can see the kind of pull Chappelle has, especially among youth,” Chance McDowell said.
Afterwards, Chappelle received a police escort to his hotel, according to Portland Police spokesperson Mary Wheat.
“Chappelle did not expect such a large response and appreciated the assistance the Portland Police provided,” she said.
A few people were reportedly hurt climbing on structures around the square, dispatchers said.
There were no arrests or citations issued, Wheat said.
Chappelle was in town to visit a few friends after a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park was cancelled. He was simply laying low, being inconspicuous, taking in the city. He had no security or an entourage. He was not doing it “for money” but just to do it as he has at other comedy clubs or bars: looking for fresh material, feeling his way back after he bailed out of a $50 million dollar contract with HBO because he was tired and refused to fake.
Another observation: Dave Chappelle is this generation’s equivalent of Richard Pryor. If Rich hadn’t contracted MS and still had his P’s and Q’s, I’d be standing around waiting for him, too.
It’s good to see Dave again.