New York City has been buzzing since comedian Dave Chappelle came to town for his 10-show mini-residency at Radio City Music Hall, which kicked off to a sold out crowd Wednesday night. His shows continue nightly through June 27, some featuring musical guests such as Nas, The Roots, Busta Rhymes, Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu.
"I've been on the road for a year and I saved the best for last," said Chappelle, 40, to the New York crowd. "I'm back to earn just enough money so I can disappear again."
Feeling overwhelmed Chappelle infamously ducked out of the public eye in 2005 heading to South Africa after he quit his successful Comedy Central show leaving $55 million on the table, a subject he addressed on stage.
"It wasn't the best decision. I didn't think it all the way through," he admitted. "It was very dramatic but I feel better."
Smoking as he spoke, the relaxed and confident Chappelle, who looked more muscular than his former stick-skinny self, performed for two hours discussing everything from his family to his career to the racism of Donald Sterling and Paula Deen.
"After Paula got fired from the Food Network, I hired her as my personal chef," Chappelle said. "We make her dress like Aunt Jemima around the house."
He even pulled out his impression of rapper Lil' Wayne starring in his own "CSI" show and culinary program, "Cookin' With Weezy," which had the crowd cheering.
The Ohio-based comedian pointed out changes he's noticed in the city since he last came here.
"I went to Brooklyn the other day and didn't get scared once," he said. "Now everybody is wearing funny mustaches and skinny jeans."
Chappelle noted that he finds it ironic that after he supported President Barack Obama, his taxes went up. "Just when I get some money, we elect a black president who is fiscally responsible," he said. "That's what it feels like to be Dave Chappelle."
Continuing in the political vein, Chappelle offered a prediction on the 2016 presidential election.
"If the Democrats run Hillary Clinton and the Republicans counter act by running Condoleezza Rice, get ready," he said, "because Ralph Nader is going to win by a landslide!"
As fans exited, free t-shirts stating, "I Was There?" on the back and the show's poster on the front were distributed as a parting gift.
"He's totally hysterical," said Kevin Quinn, 24, of Huntington. "My face hurt the entire time from laughing."
Eric Benish, 24, of East Northport agreed, "It was great to see Dave do old school stand-up comedy. I'm happy I went."