New York City roared back to life on Saturday (June 19) with a lively, packed screening of an untitled Dave Chappelle documentary and surprise concert featuring Q-Tip, De La Soul, Fat Joe, Redman and more at Radio City Music Hall, the first event at the iconic venue in over a year.
During the screening, the closing night of the 2021 Tribeca Festival, the fully vaccinated, mostly unmasked audience howled with laughter and applauded at the documentary that offered an in-depth look at how Chappelle’s star-studded outdoor stand-up shows in Ohio last summer came together and how the pandemic and revival of the Black Lives Matter movement affected the local community.
After the film, ahead of which Oscar- and Emmy-winning directors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar (American Factory) teased a surprise, Chappelle took the stage and praised New York before rappers from the city’s five boroughs, New Jersey and Long Island had the crowd on their feet, dancing and cheering.
The event already seemed like a hot ticket before the show began, with a line stretching around the block and down 51st Street almost all the way to 5th Avenue. People talked excitedly as they waited to get their tickets scanned before going quiet and craning their necks every time an SUV pulled up with what looked like a VIP guest.
Inside the theater, which showed no signs it hadn’t been used in more than 12 months, ticketholders, who had to place their cellphones in Yondr pouches, were shoulder to shoulder in parts of the lobby as they made their way to their seats.
Prior to the screening, Tribeca Festival co-founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal said the crowd was “fully vaxxed and socially squeezed.”
Bognar introduced the film by saying that their neighbor, Chappelle, asked them if they wanted to document what was initially a weekend of outdoor comedy shows in a friend’s field last summer. As the documentary shows the stand-up performances — which drew luminaries like Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, David Letterman, Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish — ended up lasting for months.
The project was filmed, edited and finished in less than a year, and while stand-up comedy and documentary film might seem different, Reichert said people in both fields use forms of expression to grapple with what the past year has presented us, a time that saw Ohio as well as New York hard hit by the pandemic.
The surprise concert, with DJ Clark Kent serving as emcee, featured brief back-to-back performances from Redman, Talib Kweli, De La Soul, Ghostface Killah, A$AP Ferg, Q-Tip and Fat Joe.
At the end of the night, Chappelle reappeared to offer some encouraging words to the crowd.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.