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.