Dave Chappelle is making people re-discover a once-popular black author. The legendary comedian dropped two Netflix specials on us on New Year’s Eve. The first one, Equanimity is Chappelle in all his glory on stage delivering his trademark stand-up that’s both confrontational and hilarious. But’s it how he approached his “surprise” 2nd special on the same day (4th of the year) The Bird Revelation that has people talking.
Chappelle took the opposite approach on Revelation, choosing to sit in front of an intimate crowd at L.A.’s Comedy Store opting for the longform conversational special in a smoky environment. If Equanimity is the rock show, The Bird Revelation (including a Charlie Parker quote intro) is the late night jazz performance aftershow. One of the most special-defining moments of Revelation was the final 15 minutes, it’s there where Chappelle reveals the most he has about his approach to Hollywood and why he opted to leave Chappelle Show and Comedy Central.
Chappelle then tells the story about Iceberg Slim and his 1967 book Pimp. Slim was one of the most influential authors within the black community during his time, publishing several books about his history as a pimp and whose work has often been referenced in other aspects of pop culture. Chappelle discusses a specific moment in the book about Slim’s ability to determine how much of a shelf life one of his best sex workers had. When she was near leaving the game, Slim executed an elaborate rouse to keep her, tricking her into thinking she killed a man, giving her no choice but to accept his help, and therefore re-affirming her loyalty to Slim.
It’s a fascinating story that Chappelle tells like the master he is, so much in fact that he’s revived the writings of Iceberg Slim for a new generation as Pimp has hovered steadily at #15 on the Amazon Best Sellers list since the release of The Bird Revelation, as Chappelle managed to re-introduce the world to Iceberg Slim.
Dave Chappelle’s Equanamity and The Bird Revelation are now streaming on Netflix.