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Dave Chappelle appeared on Oprah today to explain why he walked away from the Chappelle Show. I heard about the appearance days ago, but like a schmuck, I remembered about an hour after it was over. Thank god for the Internet and YouTube, which makes life bearable for forgetful motherfuckers like myself.

In a nutshell, it sounds like Chappelle got fed up with the stress and the pressure of carrying the show. It also sounds like he started questioning how his racial humor was being interpreted. Something else is going on there too. I'm not sure what, but the level of paranoia he seems to exhibits sort of raises some yellow flags for me.

More Dave stuff on the flip...

For those of you who missed Dave on the Oprah show today, Sohh, a hiphop blog, live-blogged it. Here are some excerpts:

4:05 The show is on and it looks like Chappelle is pensive and Oprah has to pull answers out of him. He's putting most of the blame on Comedy Central for trying to grab creative control from him in the third season. Dave says they were wrong about the direction of the show 100% of the time.

I didn't realize that he had gone to Africa without telling his wife. The dude has kids. That's fucked up to say the least:

4:26 Dave doesn't like the phrase "go crazy" but Oprah points out that leaving the country without telling your wife is prettyy crazy. Oprah asks if it was the fame and Dave says: "It's not the fame, but the way people around you position themselves to get in your mind and your pockets. It's infuriating." It's not the fame, he loves the fame, he says. He loves being on TV.

Wow--this part is sad. Chappelle and Brennen have been buddies for a while:

4:31 Dave speaks on Neil Brennan, his long time friend and co-writer "If he was that concerned about me, then I didn't get the call." He is angry that Brennan told the press Dave is not well.

I don't see the show ever happening again. This isn't just Chappelle's decision and at least right now he doesn't seem to have his act together enough to pull it off:

4:44 What circumstance will bring Dave back to his show. If he can make the proper work environment, but more importantly give his half of the DVD money to a charity. "I'm trying to unload this money back to the people who supported me."

Here are some short YouTube video clips from the show, which my favorite hip-hop blog, NahRight, compiled:

You know Oprah wishes she could have taken him under wing and taught him a couple of things about dealing with multi-million-dollar contracts and pressure: Clip No. 1

Hmmm, Dave sounds/looks a little nutso in this one...definitely suffering from paranoia. I can relate and I'm not rich OR famous: Clip No. 2

The Chappelle Show sketch that caused the breaking point:Clip No. 3

Here also is Wikipedia's guide to the show. I put what I thought were his best episodes in a poll below.

I guess this kills The Chappelle Conspiracy, of which Oprah was said to be one of the "Dark Crusaders." (For all those that bought this, I think Whoopie's membership as well as the tee-shirt pitch at the end was a pretty good tip-off that the whole thing was a hoax.)

Anyway, I figured we all could use a diary in which we could talk about one of the funniest, if not the funniest comedien alive today. What is your fave Chappelle memory and do you ever see him getting a series again?

Originally posted to JaneKnowles on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 09:15 PM PST.


Best Chappelle skit:

1%3 votes
2%5 votes
5%11 votes
32%61 votes
3%6 votes
0%0 votes
8%16 votes
1%3 votes
6%13 votes
4%8 votes
8%16 votes
25%48 votes

| 190 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's so hard to pick a favorite episode (4.00)
    Rick James is probably an incomparable classic, but there are a lot of close second-places, not to mention some great music performances, like Dave and Mos Def driving and rapping in the car.

    Okay okay, let me stop hemming and hawing. I think I liked the Racial Draft the best cause it combined all that is great about Chappelle: sharp wit plus scathing social and political commentary (plus as an added bonus, Condoleeza Rice gets made fun of!)

    •  Mars, Bitches!!!! (4.00)
      or the Roots parody
      or the blind black man who was a white supremacist
      or if blacks got reparations ("I'm RICH, beyotch!!")

      but the racial draft was hysterical - especially Tiger saying "for shizzle" in the whiny voice.

    •  Interesting tidbits from an MTV article (none)

      On Friday (February 3), he appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and said he still wants to do his show. "I don't want the money, I don't want the drama. I just want to do my show again."

      But before that can happen, he said, he has a few conditions, like creating a "proper working environment" and finding a way to "unload the money" in a more socially responsible way, so that it goes to people who have supported him instead of those who he feels exploited him. "If I give the money back to people who suffered in Katrina," he started, before Oprah interrupted him to remind him that he was on national television and shouldn't promise to give away the money if he didn't mean it. "I didn't say I was going to -- I'm just saying I want to," he said.

      "This is what I'm envisioning," he said to the camera, addressing Comedy Central, which broadcasts his show. "This is what we do. We restructure the deal. ... I think I'm more than willing to finish what we started. I want to be clear: I'm not mad at anyone anymore."

      Chappelle said he left the show, months after signing a $50 million deal for its third and fourth seasons, because he felt manipulated by the people around him.

      "I felt in a lot of instances I was deliberately being put through stress because when you're a guy who generates money, people have a vested interest in controlling you," he said.

      The comic stunned fans, his staff and Comedy Central by abruptly leaving the show in mid-production last May (see "Production On 'Chappelle's Show' Suspended") and heading to Africa for two weeks before returning to his home in Ohio. He has since resumed stand-up work.

      Chappelle clarified that when he left the show, "I wasn't walking away from the money, I was walking away from the circumstances," he said. "I was feeling overwhelmed, and some of it felt like as if this was happening deliberately."

      Though that sounds paranoid, he insisted that he hadn't lost his mind, but he had been "incredibly stressed out." Besides, he joked, "What's a black man without his paranoia intact?" And later, explaining that his $50 million paycheck only increased the problems he was having trusting people, he said, "You win a poker game and you're on the subway, you're going to look over your shoulder."

      "I'm a conspiracy theorist, to a degree," he said. "But I forgot the hostility of show business. You can't imagine what celebrities go through. I love being famous, but it's the way people around you position themselves to get in your pockets and in your mind. It's infuriating."

      Chappelle said that his team played mind games with him, putting up walls around his work space even though he didn't want them, planting false stories in the press and treating him as if he were already crazy. "They put in the paper that I had pneumonia, but it must have been walking pneumonia, because I was walking all over the place," he said. "And in the paper the next day, it said that I had writer's block. I was like, 'What's going on?!' "

      He said he was already considering leaving the show because of some "ugly" negotiations when his contract was up, and he made up his mind to leave when "they were were trying to get me to take psychotic medication." Without specifying who "they" are, he said that these were the same people who "knew what was going on," meaning that they knew he was just overwhelmed, not insane. "This was troublesome," he said. "They're trying to control and discredit me, and there was no question that I was stressed out, but it's even more stressful for them to say you're insane. I had considered walking. ... I got ahead of schedule and I bounced."

      That he didn't tell anyone except his brother -- not even his wife and children -- where he was going only confirmed his insanity to some. "I was thinking, I didn't want obstruction, I'm not telling her until after I was done," he said. "It was a mistake -- not a crazy mistake, but a dude mistake."

      He was then asked why he went to Africa. "One, I needed a break. Two, I have family friends there. And three, it's a place where I could reflect," he said. What about the rumors that he went to check himself into a psychiatric hospital? "Who goes from America to Africa for medical attention?" he asked incredulously. "That sounds like the most irresponsible journalism in the world."

      Of course, the quotes from his friends and colleagues that he was "spinning out of control" didn't help matters much. "I felt sold out," he said, pointing out that friends should have been dispelling rumors instead of starting or aggravating them.

      "The hardest thing to do is be true to yourself -- especially when everyone's watching," he said.

      Okay, I lie. That wasn't tidbits, it was the whole damn article minus one paragraph about his upcoming movie, which is actually an outdoor concert in Brooklyn that he organized.

  •  the Chappelle Conspiracy (none)
    one of my friends sent me that link a few weeks ago.  Made me laugh - he says "I know you will get a kick out of this since you love that conspiracy stuff".

    When I heard he was going on Oprah, I thought the same thing, and of course never watched or TiVo'd it....

  •  You don't have it up there (4.00)
    but the one with Wayne Brady as a gangsta was killer.  Dave was unbelievable in that one and so was Brady.

    "We ought never to do wrong when people are looking." Twain

    by dougymi on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 09:26:03 PM PST

  •  I blame Diebold (none)
    Will you bastards stop at nothing?

    None Dare Call It Stupid!

    by RonK Seattle on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 09:26:13 PM PST

  •  Hard choice between (none)
    Clayton Bigsby and Rick James. I like the skit where he's riding with Wayne Brady gansta style too. Conspiracy Dude in Undercover Brutha is funny as well. Too bad to hear he hasn't sorted his issues out yet because Richard Pryor was right in wanting to pass his torch onto Dave.

    Can anyone tell me why my American flag was made in China?

    by Skid on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 09:28:18 PM PST

  •  Clayton (none)
    Silly! Clayton Bigsby was UNaware that he was black. He only found it out later.
  •  Too hard to call (4.00)
    or maybe I'm just a punk but I'd have to go with the Racial Draft but I have to say something about the R. Kelly video. That was just ignant.

    Blah, blah, blah. Pretend that was something profound and that I said it.

    by niteskolar on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 09:33:02 PM PST

  •  Tough to pick one favorite sketch... (4.00)
    I really enjoyed the Clayton Bigsby well as The Racial Draft...and the Paul Mooney stuff. I also enjoyed the Wayne Brady was just SO out of character...and SO hilarious!

    I have to say favorite part of The Chappelle show was always Mos Def...he's just SO yummy! I liked any part of the show that had him in it:)

  •  Pop Copy (4.00)
    The one where Dave and Michael Rapaport and the guy from Half Baked worked in a copy store was hi-larious.
  •  World Series of Dice (none)

    from the Marcie Projects was killa.

    What will survive of us is love

    by howth of murph on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 09:42:15 PM PST

  •  Samuel Jackson Beer (none)
    It'll get you drunk, bitch!
  •  Real World (none)
    Racial Draft
    Charlie Murphy's story about playing basketball with Prince and then being served pancakes

    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

    by Dana Houle on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 10:02:14 PM PST

  •  Okay...I've never seen his show (none)
    Something about him has me expecting to hear "Dy-Noo-Mite!!" for some reason and it puts me off. Could it be the eerie resemblance to Jimmy Walker? Nahhh....


    Does he always sound like he does in those clips? It sounds as though he's over-medicated or something.

    Damn. I am soooo not hip anymore.


    The American taxpayers wouldn't object to free transportation for certain government officials if they'd go where we wish they would.

    by PatsBard on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 10:33:27 PM PST

    •  Watch It (none)
      Trust me, he's brilliant.  Yeah, it really is an uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Walker, but unlike Jimmy Walker, Chappelle is probably as fresh a comic voice we've had since the early '80's Eddie Murphy stuff, or before him Robin Williams (before he started playing "that guy" in all the movies; you know, that same annoying damn character/caricature in just about every role).  

      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

      by Dana Houle on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 10:37:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well (none)
      I do believe you're missing out. There's so much more to Dave than funny. He will make you see things in a very different way and you will find in between laughing that you're examining your own beliefs and prejudices. He's a pretty complex character.

      He seems pretty nervous in those clips. Most of the time he seems like a pretty confident fella--secure in his view on the world.

      •  Yup (4.00)
        You're right, it's not just the laughs, it's the way he peels things back.  I hesitate to make the comparison, because it's not just that the two of them are Black, but in so many ways he reminds me of Richard Pryor.  There's a fearlessness in many of his best skits that is bracing.  I mean, the Racial Draft is a brilliant parody of sports drafts, but the way he tosses out so many cultural and racial assumptions with rhetoric like they're discussing verticle jumps and 40 yd dash times is amazing.  And I love when he plays a white guy.  I can't remember the specifics, but one of the pieces reminded me of the SNL skit Eddie Murphy did where he played a white loan officer in a bank, where black people were all denied loans and the white people got free money with no credit checks or anything; it had that classic line "silly negroes."  And the skit where the white guy is subjected to a black-dominated justice system--just conjuring the image of that scene of the 12 pissed-off looking black jurors is making me laugh--is up there with the half-hour assasination of Buckwheat segment on SNL.  ("We do not want to make a hero out of him, but let's look into the life of John David Stutz...")

        Chappelle is brilliant, no doubt.  I hope he gets his shit together and can get back to work.  But if not, I hope he at least gets his shit together enough to enjoy the life he can probably afford based on the work he's already done.

        The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

        by Dana Houle on Fri Feb 03, 2006 at 10:50:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  He is ... (none)
      the funniest man alive.

      His shows rival the old SCTV shows for their cutting edge comedic genius. I can never remember laughing as hard as I did during the Rick James bit.

  •  I can't believe.... (none)
    that I am the only person who voted for Lil John!


  •  personal crisis (4.00)
    it seemed clear to me as I watched yesterday, that he is having his own personal crisis.  I think he made some great points about social responsibility etc... but like you I found his behavior paranoid (not that the paranoia isn't understandable).
    Great comics like actors musicians etc... often have  very strong ability to perceive the world and people and to see very clearly into people's motivation etc. ... being able to handle great fame, wealth and adulation is a hard gig when it brings along with it, the inevitable hangers on and sudden greed of the people around you.  
    •  Yes (none)
      I wanted to write something to that effect--that he's obviously a guy who feels a lot and that a lot of different pressures started to stack up on him.

      I thought this one quote was telling, "You can't imagine what celebrities go through. I love being famous, but it's the way people around you position themselves to get in your pockets and in your mind. It's infuriating."

      I know I couldn't handle that shit.

      I do think he can recover though. At least I hope he does. He's so incredibly tallented, it'd be a shame if that show was just a one-off.

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