Yellow Springs, Ohio: Comedy Mecca In Summer 2020

The hottest comedy club of 2020 isn’t New York City’s Comedy Cellar nor even The Comedy Store in West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.

It’s nowhere near New York or Los Angeles. It’s not even a club, per se, but rather an outdoor pavilion in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a small town of some 3,800 people living 18 miles east of Dayton. The town’s website boasts Yellow Springs is “Everyone’s Favorite Place.” How true that has become this summer, some five months into America’s reckoning with the COVID-19 pandemic.

But they’re not coming so much for Antioch College or for Cowvin’s Corny Maze Playland, as they are for what comedy great Dave Chappelle has been cooking up most nights at The Wirrig Pavilion.

Chappelle made Yellow Springs his home years ago, and now everyone else in comedy seemingly is paying him a visit. In the past two weeks, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Tiffany Haddish and John Mayer have all performed with him at the Wirrig. Chris Rock, Michael Che are among the other big names to come to Chappelle’s Comedy Mecca. Michelle Wolf even quarantined herself with the Chappelle family. Jim Carrey joined Rock and Chappelle one night via FaceTime.

By hosting shows outside, limiting the crowds through ticketing and requiring masks (even supplying custom Chappelle masks for them), plus rapid-testing for all the performers, Chappelle has made it all work. He even got the go-ahead from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. And on Friday, Chappelle received a zoning variance from the Miami Township Board of Zoning Appeals so he can keep putting on shows through Oct. 4.

Tickets go on sale via Ticketmaster and sell out quickly. Prices have generally run from $100-$150, but jumped to $250 for Chappelle’s concert with Mayer.

If you’re in the area, check Ticketmaster for updates.

Chappelle posted one of his very first outdoor shows from Wirrig to Netflix’s YouTube channel in June to respond in the early days of renewed #BlackLivesMatter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, calling the performance “8:46” in reference to how many minutes and seconds a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck.

What that impromptu special also tells us, though, is that Chappelle has had the capability of filming all of these #ChappelleSummerCamp shows in Ohio.

And he previously allowed director Michel Gondry to document his Brooklyn block party for the 2005 concert film, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.

Will we all get to enjoy the highlights at some point? Let’s hope so.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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