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Dave Chappelle celebrated his Netflix specials with 'secret' stand-up show

Dave Chapelle hosts an exclusive live stand up show celebrating his return and new show, presented by Netflix & Live Nation on March 20, 2017 at The h.wood Group's Peppermint Club, in West Hollywood. (Mathieu Bitton)
Dave Chapelle hosts an exclusive live stand up show celebrating his return and new show, presented by Netflix & Live Nation on March 20, 2017 at The h.wood Group's Peppermint Club, in West Hollywood. (Mathieu Bitton)

As Netflix prepared to roll out the first of a series of specials from comedian Dave Chappelle early Tuesday, he was in front of an intimate crowd toasting his return with a mostly private gig at the recently opened Peppermint Club in West Hollywood late Monday.

“It’s like a show, but it’s a celebration — it’s a celebration,” the 43-year-old said at the top of the performance.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t have any new jokes,” he admitted to the packed crowd. “All my new jokes will be streaming on Netflix at midnight.”

Dressed in a long black tank and ripped jeans, and taking puffs from a cigarette between sips of beer (or tequila, as requested mid-set), Chappelle moved through an extremely loose one-hour set.

Presented by Live Nation and Netflix, the concert was largely private — 85 tickets were sold to the public, and they went in approximately two seconds, according to venue owners — and heavily star-studded (Tobey Maguire, Don Cheadle, Aloe Blacc and Wiz Khalifa were among the guests). Hannibal Buress and Donnell Rawlings were surprise openers.

Monday's show marked the arrival of his dual specials, “The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live At the Hollywood Palladium” and “Deep In The Heart Of Texas: Live At Austin City Limits."

Backed by a small band, Chappelle riffed on his return to the spotlight following his “Saturday Night Live” debut late last year and a deal with Netflix that is reportedly worth $60 million. It will include a third special produced specifically for the streaming service (the other two were shot in 2015 and last year).

He's admittedly nervous about how the specials will be received -- even if his teenage son told him not to care (albeit a bit more profanely). 

“Much like American currency, I’m back by false confidence,” he revealed to the crowd. “I’m scared, they beat poor Amy Schumer up.” (Schumer's recent Netflix special was inundated with hundreds of one-star reviews, with the comedian thanking trolls for the low rating.)

Chappelle spent the bulk of his set tackling the election and President Trump (“I believe [he] is here save America — by accident”).

He chided Kanye West, who was in attendance with sister-in-law Kendall Jenner, about meeting with Trump. Then he warned Kendall that he discussed her parent, Caitlyn Jenner, in the Netflix special, and that his comments on the transgender community, while “not malicious,” might upset viewers — none of that exchange is printable here, and yes, it was quite brazen in its lack of political correctness.

At one point he put an audience member on the spot to see if she was upset that Trump claimed the White House — with the aide of soft jazz music — and whether she identified as a feminist. He playfully had the music cut when she said she didn’t identify as such.

There were searing musings on the women’s march, “Get Out,” Bill Cosby, race and the travel ban before he got serious by ruminating on the lie that led to the gruesome murder of Emmett Till and connecting it with recent comments from Trump. 

Before Chappelle ditched the stage for an after-party, he had his band move through an impromptu jam session of one of his favorite songs, the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There" -- and surprised the crowd by having Stevie Wonder emerge to play the harmonica. 

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