On this day in comedy on March 3, 2005, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival
Columbia Records wouldn’t release Lauryn Hill’s songs, so she reunited the Fugees for the event. Chappelle’s version of “Round Midnight”, the Thelonious Monk classic would not make the final cut. All types of legal entanglements swirled regarding music licensing and releases, yet Chappelle went around issuing “golden tickets” to all invitees by hand. Nothing would deter this party from going down.
Chappelle was at the peak of his Comedy Central celebrity thanks to his iconic, Chappelle’s Show and this documentary was meant to be an extremely colorful feather in the cap of Chappelle’s career. Turns out it was the only outside production Chappelle managed to get off before vacating Comedy Central due to a misunderstanding about the show’s direction. Too bad, a follow up would have been eagerly anticipated.
Thrown on the corner of Clinton Street and Downing Street in Brooklyn, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party lived up to the hype. The show was born of imagination and the need to give back to a community that usually gets overlooked. This would be different. Not only would this party be loaded with great music it would have the famed comedian doing material and sketches in between his chosen acts and what acts they were. Chappelle enlisted some of the brightest stars in the hip hop firmament to entertain his massive guest list.
Directed by Michel Gondry the film features the talents of Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Jill Scott, The Roots, Talib Kweli, Common, John Legend, Big Daddy Kane, Dead Prez, A Trak, Bilal, Cody ChestnuTT, Kool G Rap and the Central State University Marching Band. It spawned a bestselling soundtrack and has established itself as a cult classic. Both film and soundtrack were dedicated to the memory of music producer, J Dilla. He died of lupus one month before the film’s release.
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party came in at #6 in its opening weekend, grossing $6 million in 1,200 theaters. On a budget of $3 million it grossed $11,718,595 domestically and $333,329 internationally for a worldwide total of $12,051,924. And since we’re talking about the king of comedy DVD sales, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party sold 1,240,405 copies and counting for a total take of $18,776,445.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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