Dave Chappelle stages free show at 1 a.m. in Portland


...and people come. Oh, do they come.

Tuesday night, I had just put my kids to bed late due to summertime high energy, and I checked in with Twitter. All anyone could talk about was Dave Chappelle, and the thousands of people waiting in Portland's Pioneer Square for him. Was he coming? Did the police have any idea why they'd had to close down a major thoroughfare just after midnight in downtown... on a Tuesday? Was this all just a ruse for someone to get first in line for a midnight Harry Potter viewing? I went to bed at 12:45 a.m., chuckling to myself about how brilliant I was for not having rushed off to downtown Portland in the middle of the night over some internet rumor.

Evidently, at 1 a.m., the rumor proved to be true, and the impromptu entertainment -- a few girls flashing the crowd and, according to Twitter reports, two men who decided they should strip, too -- were forgotten in deference to Dave Chappelle and a small entourage. He was amazed at the showing, figuring a few hundred people might show up, "As you can see from my sound setup," he said, "I was not expecting nearly this many people." He praised the crowd for not getting angry, though he clearly seemed stressed.

He sent friends to get a better sound system, but no power could be found, and finally at 2 a.m. he did a very short amount of comedy, smoked an untold number of cigarettes (turning down someone's offer of harder drugs), and watched as some more people stripped. By 3 a.m., Chappelle had been escorted by police to his hotel down the street, no arrests or citations had been issued, and everyone went home, either thrilled with their brush with spontaneous, free comedy; or disgruntled that they hadn't really heard much (if anything) for their few hours' worth of elbow-to-elbow patience.

It was a strange, mixed-up, dysfunctional testament to the power of Twitter and Facebook.