Dave Chappelle’s 2021 pandemic documentary “Dave Chappelle – Live in Real Life” will have its long-awaited local premiere at the Little Art Theatre in Yellow Springs beginning this weekend.
A Dave Chappelle’s Pilot Boy Production produced and directed by Academy and Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (“American Factory”), “Live in Real Life” is a love letter to the beauty, quirks, culture and politics of Yellow Springs. Set against the backdrop of the emotional period of medical unease and societal unrest in the summer of 2020, the breezy two-hour film captures a pivotal moment in which the quaint village of 3,700 found itself at a standstill. As COVID-19 shutdowns forced businesses into a bind and the nation coped with the death of George Floyd and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Chappelle took it upon himself to simply create art in the place he calls home.
With help from his famous friends, who were stringently COVID tested upon arrival, the Emmy and Grammy Award-winning comedian’s socially-distanced shows at Wirrig Pavilion quickly became the hottest ticket in town. Despite controversy and pushback from citizens who objected to the noise and adult language among other complaints, Chappelle and his team persevered with humor and heart until a positive COVID test within their bubble forced cancellation. Nonetheless, the over 50 shows produced ultimately brought in more than $9 million to Yellow Springs and the region.
In addition to the hilarious yet topical and thought-provoking stand-up routines from Jon Stewart, Michelle Wolf, Chris Rock, Tiffany Hadish, Donnell Rawlings and Mo Amer among others, enjoyably kooky moments pop up out of nowhere such as singer Erykah Badu’s twirling entrance at Springfield Municipal Airport, actor Jon Hamm leading “Don’t Stop Believin,’” the sight of a lone squirrel crossing a deserted street, and Chappelle channeling his inner Kevin Bacon a la “Footloose” with help from John Mayer.
Bognar and Reichert also provide an array of insightful interviews with Yellow Springs business owners commenting on the economic landscape such as Karyn Current of Current Cuisine and Dino Pallotta of Dino’s Cappuccinos. And in a definite sign of the times, the duo is able to generate drama from a Zoom meeting as pavilion owners Steve and Stacey Wirrig fight on Chappelle’s behalf for a temporary usage variance during a Zoning Board session overseen by Miami Township Inspector Richard Zopf.
Tickets are available online for the following screenings: Saturday, March 26 at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, March 29 at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/294736794687.
Attendees must show a COVID vaccination card or negative COVID test (within 48 hours of the event) with a valid photo ID. Box office will open at 5 p.m. for vaccine and ID checks. Doors to the event will open at 6 p.m. The Little Art website reminds attendees Yellow Springs residents and Friends of Little Art will be given special consideration for tickets.
For more information, visit littleart.com. The Little Art Theatre is located at 247 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs.