It’s hard to believe that its been 10 exact years since Dave Chappelle’s Sketch Comedy show “The Chappelle Show” was the talk of prime-time television every Thursday nights. Chappelle had all of what it took to be the next Richard Pryor. His storytelling within his standups were eerily similar to Richard in his prime, He knew how to poke fun of himself without trying too hard and deliver social commentary without sounding too contrived. Dave also mastered of expressing Racism through his comedy racism without looking too militant or angry. He knew how to grab Black folks without feeling like he sold out because he was poking fun indirectly and grabbed the white dollars because they saw him as “nonthreatening”
Chappelle got an early start on Hollywood with him making movie appearances in movies such as The Nutty Professor, Blue Streak his personal cult classic “Half-baked” Which remains as a classic to stoners, hippies, and hipsters throughout. They weren’t the biggest roles but Dave was a diamond in the ruff and knew how to use his talents to make himself standout to give the notoriety he truly needed.
The Chappelle Show was the platform Dave needed to really showcase his genius and his sick sense of humor. He also anointed Richard Pryor’s former writer and Social Commentator/Comedian Paul Mooney to help with ideas and the rest became history. The Chappelle Show within One Season turned out to be a major hit on Comedy Central and Chappelle became the network’s newest Cash Cow. The show was even a great platform for hip hop artists to perform on and he even paid Ode to Dead Prez by using their track “Hip Hop” as an introduction to every show.
The Show’s second season was where Chappelle would reach his peak in popularity and as a comedian. The Show had a much bigger budget(with more rappers and entertainers partaking in skits), Chappelle continue to push the color boundaries with his skits and started to develop an heavy following amongst the White College demographic too(Which scared Dave). The show was building heavy steam but it was the skit featuring the late Rick James is what catapulted Dave into Super-stardom. The slogan “I’m Rick James Bitch!” became incorporated into Pop Culture and reintroduced Rick into a new generation fans along with giving Charlie Murphy new light.
The Show’s Second Season would be the highest rated show in Comedy Central next to South Park and exceeded the expectations of season one. But slowly but surely, The new-found fame started to slowly annoy Chappelle and started showing signs of cracking. Case and point with this article:
(June 17, 9:04 am PDT) – Dave Chappelle got so angry with the crowd Tuesday night at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium that the stand-up comic walked off the stage for nearly two minutes. Upon his return, he told the audience, “You people are stupid.”
What got the comic so riled up? According to Chappelle, it was audience members who wouldn’t “shut up and listen – like you’re supposed to.”
Chappelle is the creator and star of the No. 1-rated show on Comedy Central. It’s that fame that helped the comic sell out the nearly 4,000-seat Memorial Auditorium weeks in advance of the show. And that popularity also caused the frustration for the performer, as audience members continually shouted a character’s catchphrase from “Chappelle’s Show” – it starts, “I’m Rick James …” and ends with the b-word.
“The show is ruining my life,” Chappelle told the crowd. Besides requiring him to work “20 hours a day,” he said, it has made him a “star,” which has resulted in the inability of fans to treat him as an individual.
“This (stand-up) is the most important thing I do, and because I’m on TV, you make it hard for me to do it,” he said.
“People can’t distinguish between what’s real and fake. This ain’t a TV show. You’re not watching Comedy Central. I’m real up here talking.”
Shouts continued to interrupt Chappelle’s routine until he stopped to give a lecture on “how comedy usually works: I say something. You mull it over and decide whether you want to laugh or not, and then you do or not. Then I say something else, and you think about that.
“It’s worked well all across the country, but you people …”
Performing in Sacramento, the comic said, might turn out “to be a bad idea – like chocolate-covered fish.”
Chappelle told the crowd he knew why they liked his sketch-comedy show: “Because it’s good. You know why my show is good? Because the network officials say you’re not smart enough to get what I’m doing, and every day I fight for you. I tell them how smart you are. Turns out, I was wrong.
“You people are stupid.”
Much of Chappelle’s act – with its jokes about genitals,and sex talk, tales of strip-club escapades and frequent use of the n-word – is unprintable in a family newspaper. But that’s not the best part, anyway. Chappelle is most effective when he ventures into social commentary – race, poverty, the cult of personality.
One of his better rants had to do with children and at what age they might be responsible for their own lives. Elizabeth Smart, the 15-year-old Utah girl who was kidnapped from her home, figured prominently in the commentary. He contrasted her case – she was discovered about nine months after her abduction only a few miles from her home – with that of 7-year-old Erica Pratt, who gnawed through her duct tape bindings to free herself from kidnappers in Philadelphia and was responsible for the arrest of the two men who had taken her. Pratt is African-American, and her story received much less attention than did Smart’s.
Then Chappelle placed Smart’s case in opposition to that of Lionel Tate of Florida, who was convicted of murder in the death of a 6-year-old neighbor. Smart, at 15, was considered a child. But at 14, two years after the crime, Tate was sentenced as an adult to life in prison without parole. (A previously rejected plea bargain was later accepted, and he is now free.)
“When is a 15-year-old a kid and a 12-year-old an adult?” he asked, indicating it might be because one was white and one was not.
Chappelle said race relations are at such a low point in America that, “You can’t say anything real when it comes to race. That’s why Bill Cosby’s in such trouble for saying black folks have got to take responsibility for their own lives.
“I spoke at my high school last week,” he said, “and I told them, ‘You’ve got to focus. Stop blaming white people for your problems.’ ”
He then added, sarcastically, ” ‘Learn to play basketball, tell jokes or sell crack. That’s the only way I’ve seen people get out.’ ”
Chappelle’s harshest words were addressed to those audience members who worship entertainers and athletes.
“Stop listening to celebrities,” he said. “They do what they do for money – that’s all. I don’t even know why you’re listening to me. I’ve done commercials for both Coke and Pepsi. Truth is, I can’t even taste the difference, but Pepsi paid me last, so there it is.”
Celebrity worship harms the object of affection as well, Chappelle said. “One day people love you more than they’ve ever loved anything in the world. And the next, you’re in front of a courthouse dancing on top of a car.”
In case the audience didn’t get the reference to Michael Jackson, he said, “You know why Michael Jackson’s had so many surgeries? He wanted you to like him more.”
Chappelle, obviously, will not pander to his fans. “You guys are the worst listeners in the country,” he told the Sacramento audience. “It’s like ‘The Silence of the Lambs.’ Without the silence.”
The success and new-found fame was terrifying for Chappelle. He knew that he had even HIGHER expectations for Season 3. Comedy Central was throwing big money towards his direction and had possibly one of the highest deals in Hollywood on the table. Instead of capitalizing off the red-hot product, Dave did the unthinkable and did what many wouldn’t have never done: He turned down the offer.
Chappelle’s sudden absence put the deal with Comedy Central on turmoil and had them stuck on limbo. Here they were stuck with a brand that could accumulate billions for the network and the show’s main star, writer, and contributor shockingly turns down the offer and disappears out of sight. Comedy Central President Doug Herzog had to go out there and sell the perception to anticipating fans that everything will be settled knowing that his cash cow was gone.
What really happened?
After years of speculation, Chappelle broke his silence on Oprah and explained why he took a hiatus from Hollywood. It seemed to have gotten to a point where Chappelle either seen that people were starting to laugh AT him instead of Laughing WITH him. He comes across as the type of guy that values artistic integrity than selling out for the almighty dollar. He also turned down degrading skits of him wearing a Dress and perhaps seen much more of “Holly-weird” than he expected to see. This is why Chappelle today feels more at home living freely and doing standup because thats what he’s very passionate about.
He’s good on money and can tour with a peace of mind, The fans of Chappelle would most definitely miss the show because of its groundbreaking sketches and breath taking humor, But as a man, He walked out with his dignity and self respect which is a rarity in today’s world.