W. Kamau Bell Explains Why Opening for Chappelle is Extra Challenging


Opening for a comedy superstar like Dave Chappelle has to be the thrill of a lifetime, and it was for W. Kamau Bell, but if he had one regret about the gig, it was that he wasn’t paid by the hour. W. Kamau Bell sat in with to promote his new book (with an incredibly long sub-title which you can read in its entirety below), The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell and the new season of his CNN series, “United Shades of America“. During their conversation, Bell told Fallon about how he got the opportunity to open for Dave Chappelle, right after Chappelle had returned from his self-imposed exile to South Africa.

W. Kamau said that he was the opener when Chappelle would get on a roll and end up doing extra long shows with some lasting up to 5 hours. He swore to Fallon that he wasn’t exaggerating about the length of Chappelle’s sets. But during those appearances, Bell had to stick around to close the show as well, so he had to wait backstage while shows that were suppose to start at 10pm didn’t start until 11:30 and then midnight shows wouldn’t start until 1:30am and went on till morning. He said Chappelle would stay on stage so long that the clubs were no longer able to sell drinks in those late hours, or early hours, depending on how you look at it.

Bell’s biggest complaint was that after about 3 hours into a set, Dave Chappelle would have to use the bathroom. So, it was W. Kamau Bell’s job to go back on stage and keep the audience entertained while Chappelle relieved himself. For Bell, that part of the gig was a nightmare because he would be out of material and working in front of a crowd that only wanted more Chappelle. Bell said, “You don’t often get to bomb in the middle of another comedian’s set.”

At the beginning of their conservation, W. Kamau Bell talked to Jimmy Fallon about how he gets mistaken for another celebrity who Fallon is very close to. You can find out who in the clips below from the Tonight Show YouTube channel. Plus, they discussed Bell’s new book and the new season of his CNN series, United Shades of America. Bell said that while shooting the new season, they talked to “every group that President Trump insulted” during the campaign, so they obviously have a full season already shot.

W. Kamau Bell’s new book, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian, is available on Tuesday, May 2nd on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

Season 2 of United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell starts this Sunday, April 30th at 10pm on CNN.

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