He may not be a musician, but Dave Chappelle has truly proven to be a rock star this week – and thus it was a no-brainer for First Avenue to give him his own star on the wall outside the club. The club’s staff painted his name on the bricks in time to show it to the comedian after his last of eight shows there on Thursday night (technically early Friday morning).
“He seemed sort of moved by it,” said First Ave talent booker Sonia Grover, who also revealed that it was pure luck that the club had so many open nights available to book Chappelle. She first got the call from his agent only two weekends ago. “Everybody thought we were holding those dates for the Replacements, but it was just a bad coincidence” they had so many open nights, Grover said with a laugh.
In the end, Chappelle’s eight-gig run marks some kind of record for the most First Ave main-room shows in one swoop. Atmosphere can claim the most consecutive nights and an equal number of shows from January 2005 – eight in both cases -- but those were all in 7th Street Entry. Doomtree did eight shows over seven nights for its Blowout VII run in 2011, three of which were in the main room. Anyway, they’re all stars in our book.
Outside of club staffers such as ex-manager Steve McClellan, Chappelle is the first non-musician with a star on the walls of First Ave. Another first: The venue had never been set up in a seated, theater-like configuration before. That, too, seemed to go over well, and Grover said they will definitely consider doing it again, including for concerts (think: acoustic shows like this week's appearance by Colin Meloy at the Woman's Club).
Of course, Chappelle isn’t done yet. His Minneapolis marathon continues with two shows tonight at Pantages Theatre, and they just announced the second of two shows there for tomorrow night – which promoter Live Nation declared his “final” one.
Chappelle told WCCO-TV reporter Reg Chapman – a friend of the comedian’s, who scored an ultra-rare interview with him – that he picked First Ave largely on the basis of “Purple Rain” being filmed there. He said, “I was like 11 when ‘Purple Rain’ came out, so it has personally the same significance of playing Carnegie Hall or something.”
It sounds like Prince never made it to any of Chappelle’s gigs at the club, but the comedian suggested – seriously or not – that he plans to make it out to Paisley Park for a rematch in the shirts-vs.-blouses basketball game so famously recounted on “Chappelle's Show.” They should sell tickets to that one, too
[Photo: First Avenue Instagram]