Comedian Dave Chappelle is probably best known for pushing the envelope. But his comments at a Tuesday night show in Chicago about letting Hartford serve as a nuclear bull's-eye made him a target for the city mayor and many others.
"F*** Hartford," Chappelle said onstage. "I would never go back. I wouldn't even go to Hartford to get f****** gas."
The 40-year-old comedian took the stage in the Windy City days after walking off during a performance in Hartford on Aug. 29. This time, Chappelle used the rocky course of events at the Comcast Theater as comedic material.
"I don't want anything bad to happen to the United States," Chappelle said. "But if North Korea ever drops a nuclear bomb on this country, I swear to God, I hope it lands in Hartford, Connecticut."
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra responded to those comments in the following statement:
"I wasn’t at the show, so I can’t comment on it specifically. But his recent remarks were immature and inappropriate. Dave Chappelle should stick to his job, give the fans what they paid for and not disparage the good people of Hartford."
Segarra added that the comedian should give fans what they paid for. The mayor also tweeted, "Dave Chappelle should quit whining, do his job and try some yoga. #HartfordHasIt."
Hartford residents like Lesli-Ann Lewis said Chappelle's comments had racial undertones targeting both the crowd and the city itself.
Lewis has spent most of her life in Connecticut. She attended that Thursday night performance and wrote an article about the incident for Ebony magazine about what she witnessed.
"Anytime a black person expresses any kind of anger toward racial issues," Lewis said, "it’s always characterized as unrighteous anger or unjustified anger. And it’s not.”
Other residents, though, say race shouldn't be a factor.
“Everybody paid green money for their tickets at the end of the day," said Ant da Barber of the J.A.W.S. barbershop on Sisson Avenue. "So white, brown, black, or yellow, at the end of the day he was supposed to perform."
Chappelle walked off the stage in Hartford without finishing the show.
Scot X. Esdaile, president of Connecticut's NAACP branch, told the Hartford Courant he was deeply saddened by Chappelle's comments. Esdaile said he's met Chappelle several times and hopes to one day lure him back to the Nutmeg State.
Lewis said she is not upset or offended by the comments.
“I hope that people are going to consider what he's saying a little bit more," she said.
Lewis said she hopes his comments detonate a greater conversation on race relations.