Last summer, David Letterman and Dave Chappelle hung out on the main street of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and nobody stopped to stare. Letterman, with his geriatric-hippie beard, looks like he belongs. And Chappelle actually does.
Chappelle is raising his family in the friendly, historic community, where he spent his tween years. A stream of Chappelle’s famous friends—Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Tiffany Haddish, Questlove—joined the comedian for a series of pop-up shows in a field last summer. Meanwhile, Chappelle was also filming a documentary that will close out the Tribeca Film Festival in June, looking at COVID-19 and the Black Live Matter movement through lends of this small town. Before you kick yourself for missing all the action, check Ticketmaster—there might be more golden opportunities to see A-list comedy in Yellow Springs, with dates now open through the end of this month and possibly more to come. Yellow Springs has granted a permit for Chappelle to continue his outdoor events at Wirrig Pavilion (4866 State Rt. 68)—fans haunt the ticket portal to score the scarce seats, which are $200 per person for the May dates. And he intends to convert the former township fire station into a comedy club.
The star power hasn’t altered the town’s bohemian charm. Yellow Springs Toy Company (252 Xenia Ave., ystoyco.com) captures the eccentricities of the community’s merchants. The shop has outstanding kid crafts, STEM toys, and tiny music boxes that play classics like “Hey Jude.” Dark Star Books (237 Xenia Ave., darkstarbookstore.com) is the kind of gloriously crammed, quixotically curated used bookstore where you can waste hours. Wildflower Boutique (232 Xenia Ave., wildflowerys.com) has Chappelle-themed gear alongside crocheted bralettes. Pay attention to the lamppost banners on Xenia and Dayton Street, too. They’re adapted from old protest posters.
The call of the wild—specifically, a dramatic limestone gorge and John Bryan State Park (3790 State Rt. 370, odnr.gov)—is as strong as the creative vibe. And Chappelle’s fire station isn’t far from the entrance to Glen Helen Nature Preserve, home of the town’s eponymous springs. Legend is that if you drink the water, you’ll always return. So Chappelle shouldn’t have a hard time booking talent.