I remember buying season one of Chappelle’s Show on DVD and devouring every minute of it. I was at a friend’s basement apartment and was so excited to play the DVD for them. But imagine my disappointment as I watched my friends stare at the screen blankly. How did they not find this man as hilarious as I did? I had not only watched the DVD upteen times, but could recite full skits word for word by now. Needless to say, they have come around but Dave Chappelle’s comedic genius was never unnoticed by me. Also, let the record show that Chappelle’s Show still holds the record for most DVDs sold for a TV show.
But it has been almost 10 years since he walked away from his famous Comedy Central TV show. His show broke records and he was seen as the funniest stand-up out at the time, with comparisons to the late great Richard Pryor. So, many wondered how he could have left a show he created, that made him famous and had earned him millions that many black comedians would have killed for? But what made me respect him was that despite what folks wanted him to do, or thought he aught to do, he stood by his beliefs and did whatever he needed to do to maintain his sanity. Can’t be easy to do in Hollywood, especially with so many zeros on your pay cheque. But as the old adage goes, ‘if you don’t stand for anything you’ll fall for anything’. Dave, albeit having been out of the public eye, has earned a lot of respect for standing.
That level of respect and adoration was proven when he sold out 10 shows at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall this year. And to boost, he had musical guests Nas, Busta Rhymes, Mos Def and Kanye join him on stage through out those 10 dates. What comedian can almost disappear for years then come back to sell out shows and have chart topping musical guests join him/her on stage?
So imagine my joy seeing Dave on the cover of GQ as the leader of their Men Of The Year issue. Bravo Dave. Bravo! I’ve read the article and I have to say it was well done. Often interviews can either come across contrived or that the writer is an over zealous fan that is more excited by the illusion than the person. This was full of candid conversation showcasing Dave’s authenticity.
Some of my favourite parts:
On Chappelle’s Show, you came into contact with a lot of guys who later became famous. Like Kanye. One of his first TV performances was on Chappelle’s Show?
Yeah! And no one was more surprised than me when he did the surprise performance during my Radio City show. It was weird. You know what he said after the fact, which I thought was funny? He said, “Why wasn’t I on the show in the first place? Like, why wasn’t I booked?” So I don’t know what happened via the machinery. It also could be that Kanye’s like a girl that’s so pretty, nobody asks her to the dance. You know what I mean? I knew the day before that he was coming to see the show. Then, as I was walking onstage, right before I went on, Kanye was there and was like, “Yo, can I rock with y’all?” And I thought he meant in general—like, “Yeah, man, always! We all cool for life! Blah blah blah.” Talking all that shit. And then afterwards, when I say good night, I looked up. Kanye is actually onstage, standing there with a microphone in his hand. I was like, “This is nuts.”
Holy shit. Rob Ford?
Seriously, you can Google it. I was in Toronto for a few shows, and they told me I couldn’t smoke onstage. And I was like, “Well, can’t you just waive the rule tonight?” And they’re like, “It’s a citywide ordinance.” So I got up the next morning and went to the mayor’s office. This is before all that shit about him came out.
You’re a student of stand-up. You’ve been performing on stages, telling jokes, since you were 14. It seems like it’s difficult to hurt most comics’ feelings, but looking at Hartford [where Dave was heckled and refused to do his act] and the similar incident in Florida, you seem to be different.
Yeah, but it depends. Sometimes there’s something I really want to convey, and I get a little obsessive about it. So there’s that. It’s not that they’re not listening, but it’s like I’m trying to say this thing to them and they can’t hear me. Like, there were times when I was famous for things that became cumbersome. Half Baked was like that, where I had grown personally, and when I would go onstage, people would scream out shit from that movie. Or like, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” And I’d just be like, “Listen to what I’m saying, listen to what I’m saying.” It was frustrating—like I was being victimized by my work. I think it’s a Miles Davis quote where he says you spend the early part of your career trying to chase your influences, and the second half trying to get away from ’em.
Read the full article on GQ’s site. Hoping this resurgence leads to more appearances. I’ve yet to see him live and that is definitely on my bucket list.