Dave Chappelle Talks About Leaving Chappelle's Show
After eight years, Dave Chappelle shares how he could leave Chappelle's Show and what he did after.
Comedian Dave Chappelle may be best known for his sketch comedy series, Chappelle's Show, which ran on Comedy Central from 2003 to 2006 when Chappelle suddenly quit. Afterward, the stand-up comic was not active for over a year until he hosted the documentary Dave Chappelle's Block Party. (Note: If you haven't seen that, you need to address this.) Chappelle's Show was a hit, parodying pop culture, politics, and drug culture. While the show was popular for its humor, it was also recognized for its commentary on social issues.
On The Late Show with David Letterman last night, Chappelle doesn't state exactly why he left Chappelle's Show while filming the third season, but he does explain why he went to South Africa and goes into how he was okay with sacrificing the potential income from the show. At a stand-up act in 2004, the audience starting chanting the catchphrase "I'm Rick James, bitch!" from one of his sketches. A frustrated Chappelle told the audience that Show was ruining his life and stated "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."
In 2005, Comedy Central announced that production would cease indefinitely after Chappelle suddenly left. Chappelle was expected to earn $50 million for completing a third season.
For those of you interested in checking out this brilliant artifact of American media culture, clips are available at the Comedy Central website.
Source: The Late Show with David Letterman Youtube
So he was trying to address social problems through parody, something done all the time on Comedy Central, and rather than having the intended result of showing people how wrong they are in their thinking, he was only remembered for the catchphrase of the character that he created. I get the frustration. If looked at from a scientific perspective, it's a failed experiment that needed to be stopped, like accidentally creating a new disease. Kill it with fire and try again from an altered perspective.
There was another reason why he left, he wasn't treated very well (as he had hinted to in his comment) by his own network execs. Mind-games, ripping on him. What really broke it for him was that people didn't get his jokes in a "ha-ha, this is foolish! Who actually believes that black people like fried chicken that much?" people interpreted it in a "ha-ha, we knew this shit was true. Stupid fuck."
Empowering people like that is terrifying. More-so when your own management is already playing mind-games with you.
Still though, documentary I hadn't seen. I could be a bit off, but this is what was revealed with Oprah.
I thought he was really awesome on Good Times, why did he leave that show?
A few months ago I read a great write-up about his comedic work and how is affects people.
"The problem was not so much the work as it was who was viewing it. It is clear at this point that Chappelle is the inheritor of the mantle held by the late Richard Pryor (and if ever there was occasion to lament his passing it is now when there is so much for him to say about this situation.) Chappelle mentioned later that he left because he felt that he'd been irresponsible with his art. But his work had not changed; the news of his massive contract and his status as the reigning it kid of American pop culture had vastly changed the audience he was performing it for. And that is what Chappelle meant by "everything that came with the money."
Its in no way written by a person who has had formal discussion Chappelle, but I think its an extremely interesting take, and one that it seems that he has just further confirmed.
While I have my disagreements with Chappelle, I have a lot of respect for him, for valuing his art, and its influence, over money.
I uhhh...didn't know his show was still filming new stuff. I kinda' feel bad now.
He did this one bit, about a man who, blind since birth, didn't know he was black and got caught up in all the racism of 50s and 60s in the southern US and joined the Klan. It was one of the funniest, most poignant things ever put on Comedy Central