Dave Chappelle – Inside The Actor's Studio Interview
Everybody's waiting to see how crazy I am, huh?
I'm just kidding.
[Question 1 - Birthplace]
[Questions 2 & 3 - Parents' Names]
William David Chappelle and Yvonne Lee Chappelle.
[Question 4 - "What were they doing in Washington when you were born?"]
I have no idea. I know sex was involved.
You know it's funny.
My mom and my dad are very educated people.
My dad was doing something corporate,
I think she he was doing statistics.
[Question 5 - Mom]
She's gonna love this.
She's got a Masters in Divinity,
A PHD in African American Studies and something else,
She's gotta a stack of degrees in the house somewhere.
She worked for Lumumba. He hired her himself.
And she worked there during the civil war, she was there when he was assassainated.
[Question 6 - "What did your mother do when she returned to the United States?"]
She opened the Belinda Center at Central State University. In Ohio.
[Question 7 - "My research indicates that she established what may have been the first PHD program in Black Studies in 1974. She was a pioneer"]
Yeah, she was, and in a lot ways, she still is.
[She taught Lingala.]
That I didn't know.
[Question 8 - "Did she share any of her linguistic gifts with you?"]
I barely speak English.
[Question 9- Father's career in academia... "Where did he teach?"]
Antioch College. It's in Oak Springs Ohio, it's a real hippie town.
It's the hippie college.
And Antioch, if you'll remember, is the school that had the sex policy,
"Ask every step of the way,"
"May I kiss your breast?"
[Question 10 - On siblings]
I have two. I have a brother and sister.
[Question 11- Where'd you go to elementary school?]
Woodland Elementary. Silver Spring, Maryland.
[Question 11 - "With an academic background at home, how did you do in elementary school?"]
I never liked school from the first day.
I just walked in there and said, "I hate this place, I hates its guts."
I hated school and I know it's not good to say to students.
But the way my mom introduced me to school was kind of traumatic, cause she didn't tell me I was going.
She's packing my lunchbox and all this stuff is happening,
Then I thought were going for a walk.
And then we walk into school and she was like, "I'm bouncing."
And I was just in there.
I cried man, I cried. These kids were just so mean and evil.
I don't know if people remember there first day in kindergarten,
But I felt like these kids had met each other before
And I was the only one who didn't know anybody.
And I got in a fight.
This kid, I still remember his name (Paul), and we were coloring.
He was coloring corn green, that really bugged me.
And I told him that corn was yellow and he started hitting me.
And I was like,
"This is coldest shit that's every happend to me in my life."
It was just like instantly life had changed.
[Question 12 - So color was already an issue?]
Color was an issue.
[Question 13 - Television's role in his childhood]
I watched an incredible amout of televison.
Before I could tell time from a clock, I could tell it from a television.
That I could turn on the TV and say, "This is on? It's 7:30."
I watched so much TV, man. I was always like an escapists.
You know, I was the odd kid out.
I didn't tell you this; about my first day in Kindarten,
I peed in the nap-time. I peed.
Which instantly set me apart from everybody. You can't do that.
We were having juice, it got so good to me, that I wasn't...
My older brother, like this freakishly good looking dude.
Me? I mean I'm alright.
But you know, everyone in my family was light complected.
Except for me.
And I'm telling you, from a young age, I noticed that people would treat me different
But I didn't understand why they would treat me different.
But I do believe to this day, that that had something to do with it.
[No fake tears]
[Question 14- "What middle school did you go to?"]
Arthur E. Morgan Middle School.
Which no longer exists. And that's in Yellow Springs.
It was I guess, right after my last year in elementary school, my mom moved us.
Like before we lived right, right, on the outskirts of Washington, on the dividing line.
Then Mom moved us in the Northwest.
We moved to D.C., man, and the neighborhhod was wild.
And I was just at that aged where I'd want to start running the streets, so to speak.
So my mom sent my brother and I to live with my father in Yellow Springs.
4,500 people. Maybe they now there's like 3,700 people there.
[Yellow Springs = Hippie town]
You know, it's a hippie town.
My dad a the time was involved in some human rights group that was dedicated to ending racism,
But it's a small town so racism is a relative term.
Hating black people would mean I hate like twenty five people in this town. You know what I mean?
My parents split up when I was two. And I don't remeber them marrried.
[High school in Washington D.C.]
Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Well, first I went to Eastern High school for a half of a school year.
I transefered to Duke Ellingon.
See, this is thing: when I came back to Ohio, like I left when I was ten almost eleven,
Came back when I was thirteen, going on fourteen.
While I was gone, crack had come out. So I got like a before and after.
It was like a Crack Bomb had gone off.
D.C. during the crack epidemic was probably one of the worst cities in America.
It was definitely the murder capital.
My freshman year of high school was about 560 kids my age murdered.
It was heavy, man. Everybody I knew sold crack. Only God knows how many people were smoking crack.
That made a very big impression on me.
That and the fact that D.C. is a very segregated city.
Especially at that time.
Statistically speaking to this day, statiscally speaking, there's not one poor white person in Washington.
There's a lot of poor black people in Washington.
So these are the things that I'm seeing.
And I didn't like that shit, I didn't like going to Eastern.
So I was going through a real tough time.
And just readjusting.
And my Mom bought me this Time Magazine with Bill Cosby on the cover: "Cosby Inc."
Me and the guy had a lot of stuff in common.
some of the quotes he would say.
I just remeber after reading that stuff, I put it down.
And it was like: I'mma be a comedian.
And man I'm telling you, I could see it so clearly, so clearly man--this is it.
I was so excited I told my family,
"I have an announcement to make, I'm gonna be a comedian"
Cause I was always funny. I was the youngest kid.
The youngest kid in the family usually plays that role of the tension breaker.
I was that dude.
That's when my mom suggested that maybe I go to a comedy club and check it out.
Live comedy is the most incredible thing in the world to me
Like the first time you see a dude just standing there
Talking every joke he's saying just hitting and working.
Every weekend, I'd go, I'd get a little bit money,
To the point where they started knowing me.
I'd just sit the crowd and I'd just be watching.
And then on Tuesday they had an open mic.
And I'd go on Tuesdays to see why people weren't working
Weekends were to see why people were working,
Tuesday I was figuring out -- what's wrong with these people?
To watch a comedian bomb is one of the greatest things in the world,
I love it, and then at that point, I was talking to a comedian after one of the shows,
And the owner of the comedy club, and they were both saying, you know, "if you want to be a good comedian, you've gotta take acting classes," and they didn't explain it, but after that I went home and I said, "Mom, I gotta take acting classes," and That's how the Duke Ellington thing started.
[Question 15 - "That's a school of the arts, right?"]
[Question 16 - "And what did you study there?"]
The school was incredible.
Classical acting, modern acting, improvisation, technical theater, script analysis, script writing.
[Question 17 - Did you work while you were in school in Washington?]
Yeah, okay, let's run down the list.
My first job:
Summer between '87-'88 school year--excuse me.
[James Lipton talks about smoking]
I don't know about y'all, but this shit is stressin' me out!
I feel like I'm confessin' and stuff.
I'm starting to feel like I'm on trial
"Tell me about that, Dave"
I mean, you know, I don't know.
I was a child and talked so wild, Mr. Lipton.
Alright, so, alright, the first job, and, remember,
This is when people were making a lot of money selling drugs,
3.50 an hour. August. I had to dress up in a cookie costume.
I'm not bullshitting you!
It was a cookie costume with chocolate chips,
And a big chocolate chip on my head, sweating,
And I had to hand out flyers for this place called the Cookie Bag
When I started at Duke Ellington it was like you go to school from 8, 8 o'clock in the morning until at least 5 o'clock at night, so work stopped for a while, and then, you know, the nightclub thing kicked in.
[Question 18 - Was your early comedy autobiographical?]
Still don't talk about myself.
Uh, yes, but never directly, I don't want to give away my secret recipe,
But originally my plan was, I'll go to school,
And then after I graduate I'll start stand-up,
But then I was like, I'm going to the club after school.
It's Tuesday, so I'm gonna go to that open mic night.
I've been practicing with a candlestick in the mirror,
I felt like I was ready, and I told my family I was going,
Told my mom, you know, "I'm going, I don't want you to come,
I'm gonna go by myself, it's something I gotta do,"
And whatever, whatever, so of course she shows up with my grandmother and my brother.
The emcee introduced me, I can remember the introduction
"You know, folks, everybody's gotta start sometime,
And tonight is this young man's first time on stage.
Who knows--exactly what he says, Who knows?
You may be witnessing the birth of a star. Please welcome Dave Chappel-pelle
And I went up there, man, and I was scared, and I used to look at my feet when I started,
And I said the first joke looking down at my feet, and they laughed, and I looked up and said "Holy"
And then I looked back down at my feet and said another one, and after the set, you know, the crowd was going crazy.
I think I did two and a half minutes, but they were going crazy.
I was 14, probably looked like I was 11.
I was telling jokes about Jesse Jackson running for president,
And Alf's spaceship landing in a black neighborhood.
Cause before going on I was scared,
And I told my grandmother, like, "You might hear me say some things that you might not want to hear your grandson say,
And she said, "Just relax and do that shit,"
I was like, "Wow," I had never heard her curse.
So it went great, and then here's the kicker--
So then I go to school the next day, you know, feeling like a million bucks,
And I go and I'm telling all the kids at school,
"Guess what I did last night--comedy club, ripped it,
The crowd was going crazy, you know. And you know what they said?
And that was the beginning of a dual life.
By day I was Clark Kent, and at night I was Superman, you know?
Pretty girls in school might look at me and be like,
"Oh, Dave, he's so funny," but I wouldn't date 'em,
But at night I'd date women your mother's age if I wanted to.
[Question 19 - "Did you move to new york to do some stuff?"]
Yeah, cause I said, "I'm gonna go to that Apollo and rip that mug."
I went for the regular Wednesday amateur night.
When I say I got booed off stage. Oh, god.
I still remember that boo.
I'd never been booed off stage before, but I just remember looking out and seeing like everybody booing--everybody.
Even like old people.
I was like, "Who boos a child pursuing his dreams?"
It was the meanest crowd in the world,
And that siren went off, and that dude comes out tap dancing dadadadada dada da, Sandman.
I wanted to choke the shit out of!-- I was like
And that was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Best thing, because before that time, I had never bombed, let alone got booed off stage, and bombing was horrifying.
Nobody wants to bomb-- nobody, you know?
People say, "You do comedy, what happens if nobody laughs?"
"I don't know," so that night was liberating because I failed so far beyond my wildest nightmares of failing, that it was like, Hey, they're all booing, my friends are here watching, my mom, this is not that bad, and after that I was fearless.
To get into the New York comedy circuit, it's a very closed circuit, and I got in all these clubs in like a week. Two weeks.
Like, that's just reputation-- "Have you seen this kid? Have you seen this kid?"
I was like that dude.
[Question 20 - "How old were you when you made your first TV development deal?"]
My mother and my grandmother were freaked out, you know?
I was the first person in my family not to go to college, that had not been a slave.
So I was really breaking from tradition.
It was like a graduation lunch we were having,
And they had my dad come and talk to me,
And my dad takes me outside, and he's like, "Listen,"
And this is some advice that applies to all you acting students,
He says, "To be an actor is a lonely life.
Everybody wants to make it and you might not make it."
And I said to my dad, "Well, that depends on what making it is, dad."
I was a smart ass kid, he said, "What'd you mean?"
"I said, well you're a teacher. If I can make a teacher's salary doing comedy,
I think that's better than being a teacher," and he started laughing.
He said, "If you keep that attitude, I think you should go," he said,
"But name your price in the beginning. If it ever gets more expensive than the price you name--get outta there"
Oh, man, you guys are gonna learn a lot tonight.
You know, you guys are students now, so you're idealists, but you don't know about where art and corporate interests meet yet.
Just prepare to have your heart broken, like in a way-- you see him laughing that evil laugh?
Because he knows, man, and everybody laughs at me, but just get your Africa tickets ready, baby, because it's coming,
it's coming, you have no idea.
The first pilot I did was called "I'm The Man," and it didn't get picked up.
It was real painful, cause I had experienced nothing but success.
I took it like a bitch, man, I was really upset,
And that's when I started smokin' that weed, man.
It just made me feel better, man.
I'm not trying to tell kids to do it.
As a matter of fact, I wouldn't tell anybody to do it,
But that's how I dealt with my problems, and at the time it was working out great, baby.
I was smoking that weed.
I'm just being--i'm just being real, you know?
You know what I mean?
Like a lot of white kids, you got things accessible to you like, uh, therapy.
We don't have that.
We have liquor stores and weed.
[Question 21 - You've called "the nutty professor" one of your favorite film assignments. Why?"
I just remember the first day at work,
And I'm walking on the set, um, this fat dude comes up like, "Hey, man, you're real funny,"
I'm like "Thanks."
"Oh, it was Eddie Murphy, he had that makeup on, and he knew my jokes."
He started telling obscure jokes I did, like he knew 'em,
And every day we would do takes, man, I mean, somewhere this footage exists, and when they say cut, I mean, those extras would be cheering.
I mean, it was like me and Eddie were-- we were dancing, and Eddie would drop these jewels on me,
You know, when we're working, and he was a real wise dude,
Seen a lot of Eddie Murphy, and he was the guy
He's like, "You gotta start writing. The way you tell jokes, you think in pictures, and you can write.
You should start doing it," and that was the big "Nutty Professor" breakthrough.
[Nutty Professor interlude]
[A lesson for this evening-- comedy can be cruel.]
Somewhere there's a black professor watching this like "Baffonery"
But that makes me laugh seeing that,
Cause I remember when I said the "Who's sucking whose titties?" line,
And Eddie was like doing Sherman, and he was drinking when I said it,
And water shot out of his nose, and he said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry,"
I wasn't expecting that.
And that was the best feeling, like, to make Eddie Murphy break character was very-- to this day, man, forget the Emmy nomination.
That was like-- that was the best.
[Question 22 - "Who wrote half baked?"]
It was me and Neal and purple haze.
[Question 23 - Tell us about that writing process. How did you guys work?]
I can't remember, I was high, man.
The night before we had these series of pitch meetings.
We were like, "Man, we don't have a story."
And at that time, you know, I drank a little beer, so we drank some beer.
Neal doesn't smoke weed, I smoked me some weed.
And suddenly we had this story,
This weird story about killing a police horse and needing to raise money,
And it was really weird the way it happened, man,
But it was really inspired, Half-baked.
I liked smoking weed so much that I thought I should make a movie about it.
And it was inspired, man.
It was like, you know, it was inspiring.
When that script came out, me and Neal, we were hot as a pistol for a week.
It was--the script was way better than the movie.
Yeah, it was, that script was dope.
[Question 24 - "Dave, Who do you play in the movie?"]
I play Thurgood Jenkins.
[Question 25 - "Who else do you play in the movie?"]
Oh, I play the sir smoke-a-lot.
[Sir Smoke-a-lot interlude]
This is very embarrassing, homie.
[I think it's a remarkable piece of acting. That's why I wanted to play it.]
I'm sorry, man, for me it's a little surreal being on the Actor's Studio, and just to see you like,
"And then you did Half Baked."
[Question 26 - On the influence of Martin Lawrence]
Martin Lawrence is the guy that showed everybody to you could make it from D.C. to Hollywood.
I had a personal stake in his success.
Every time he did something, it made me feel inspired and really good, and he was always real nice to me.
He'd sit me down, "What's going on with you, baby boy?"
We'd talk about comedy whatever, you know, when we did Blue Streak,
We were promoting it, and Martin had a stroke, he almost died.
Snd then after that I saw him, and I was like, "Oh my God, Martin, are you ok?"
And he said, "I got the best sleep I ever got in my life." That's how tough he is.
So let me ask you this-- what is happening in Hollywood that a guy that tough will be on the street waving a gun screaming,
"They are trying to kill me?"
Yeah, what's going on?
Why is Dave Chappelle going to Africa?
Why does Mariah Carey make a $100 million deal and take her clothes off on TRL?
A weak person cannot get to sit here and talk to you.
Ain't no weak people talking to you, so what is happening in Hollywood?
The worst thing to call somebody is crazy, it's dismissive.
"I don't understand this person, so they're crazy," That's bullshit.
These people are not crazy, they're strong people.
Maybe the environment is a little sick.
Oh, I'm dropping dimes tonight.
I've had a long year, Mr. Lipton.
[Question 27 - What did you mean, Dave, when you described your father's death in 1998 as the beginning of a terrible decline?]
I was 23 when I was doing Half Baked.
I was getting ready to turn 24,
And I was going through all the things that a dude goes through when he goes from one level to the next.
I was starring in a movie that I wrote, so things start getting crazy around you.
And my 24th birthday was coming on August the 24th.
And I said, "This is gonna be a big one."
And the morning that I turned 24, the phone rang,
And my sister was like, "Dad had a stroke."
For the next year, I watched my father teeter on life and death, and it was just all this stuff, man.
Like, I was a--dad was dying,
Half Baked didn't come out the way I wanted it to come out.
I was real upset about that, cause it was a real cool script,
And then I saw it, I was like, "Hey, man, you made a weed movie for kids" and it wasn't for kids, the script, you know?
It was all these things and so much pressure.
Then I was in Ohio,
I got a call on my cell phone from Hollywood.
I'm like, "Hello, Hollywood," they're like, "Hello Dave,"
They're like, "That pilot you did for Fox, it looks like they want to pick it up"
"We need you to come out cause they want to meet with you.
And I was like, "Well, listen, I can't really come out right now.
I got a real bad situation at home. Can we talk about this on the phone?"
"No, no, they would rather meet with you in person," agh!
But, you know, like the whore that they turn us into,
I jumped on that plane and left my father's bedside, which I regret to this day,
And I went out and I sat with these people in this room,
And if you can imagine a large circle of people, and I was 12:00-- the black dude.
"Yeah, Dave, we really like the show," but the-the pilot episode was about me getting booed off stage at the Apollo.
They go, "You know, but what are we gonna do about it? I mean, there's not really any white people "
I said "Well, it's about the Apollo. It's not really white."
"Well, you know, we were thinking about the girl on the show, we didn't think she was that funny, not that good looking. I think we should maybe recast her" ..
And they start using terms like "universal appeal," basically saying they want me to recast the girl with a white woman.
I say, "Yeah, I don't think I can do this," and I quit.
On the cover of Variety-- " "Chappelle pulls the race card," The race card.
And I get calls from Newsweek, 60 Minutes, everybody, "We want your story."
Man, I'm scared to death.
I'm like Rosa Parks or some shit
Like, I'm not ready for this.
I was just venting a little bit.
And then a few months later, dad dies, and that's hard for a young dude in his life.
That's a real tough loss.
I was there when he died, and he went from being my father to "What're we gonna do with the body"
Within moments it was over, and I'm going through all of this stuff,
And this is the guy I would usually talk to, right?
Now I gotta figure this out for myself.
I don't wanna figure this out for myself, you know?
I was beat down, I wasn't living right, you know what I mean?
Like, the weed thing was just a bad habit at this point, and you know what I mean?
All these, you know, chicken-head girls you're messing with.
It comes with the territory.
I'm just being real, just being real.
I just wasn't living right, man.
I didn't feel good, and the stand-up stuff was just some angry stuff.
It was just like I was kind of bottoming out,
But when my dad died, because I'd been commuting back and forth to Ohio so much,
That's when I bought the farm, which I call the Fuck You Hollywood Farm
[Question 27 - Did you stay in Yellow Springs for a while?]
I live there to this day.
I live there to this day.
I'm raising my kids there.
Look, man, at that point in your life it's something so real,
In contrast to what Hollywood is, a very powerful illusion,
And when your dad dies it kinda just broke the spell, like,
"Whoa, this is bullshit."
I've been spending so much time doing this, what about my family?
What about my friends?
Wait, whatever happened to my friends?
Dang, I don't even have any friends, ugh
So I bounced, man,
And the new year's eve 1999, I moved into that farm, and that was it.
As far as I was concerned I was done with show business.
[Question 28 - Can you be amused by your own work?]
I love my jokes.
Some jokes, like, you know, I've got this real immature streak where I write a lot of scatological humor.
You know, but a good shit joke will just never--they last, they hold up.
I just like having fun.
When I'm on stage I get real happy up there,
Like maybe that's the only time in my adult life that I feel like myself.
You're standing up there, you know what I mean, like gladiator, and them lights is on ya', and you look down, and everyone's looking up at you like "Ahh."
And it's just all of these smiles around you,
And they get dressed and they put perfume on and stuff, and they're going to see your show.
That feels good, man.
These people, you know, they love you, even if it's for a minute, they really do.
They love you, man, you know?
It's like a--it's a love-fest.
Yeah, it's the best feeling, man.
I love stand-up.
[Killin' Them Softly interlude]
[James Lipton Hook]
Listen, man, black people don't like the ghetto.
It's like you and me, you mean.
Don't nobody, you know, nobody wants to live in the ghetto, but the joke is so dope, man.
I gotta pat myself on the back, because it's based off of true stories.
Yes, the joke starts out I'm in a limousine.
I knew he was taking me to the ghetto, cause I'm looking out the window,
I'm like, "gun store, gun store, liquor store--where the hell you takin' me?" boom, so, okay, there's a little statement,
But it's not preachy--it's not-- but I'm just painting a picture.
I'm painting a picture, right?
Then we get to the ghetto, and then I do the baby standing on the corner.
That was in Washington.
I saw some kids running around playing and I was like, "Who has their kids just running out on the streets like this?" okay, true story.
Now did the baby talk to me? No!
Was he selling weed? No!
But I was making a point, you know?
I was making a very subtle point, and here I am, a black man in a limousine-- now we're getting to the class issues.
In the ghetto.
So it's truth in jest.
You know, people, I pride myself on saying real shit that people don't even notice I'm saying, but they feel it, cause when people come up to me, they say it, "I loved, I loved that," uh, they can feel it, but I don't think they really know, so when you pointed that out, I was very impressed, man, and then sometimes I just to tell shit jokes.
That's the beauty of it.
[James Lipton on why black comedy matters]
[Chappelle Show interlude]
That stuff is harsh.
[James Lipton on "talking white"]
Every black american is bilingual, all of 'em.
We speak street vernacular, and we speak job interview.
There's a certain way I gotta speak to have access.
If I'm sitting across the table from a studio exec, you know, sometimes they'll do it to me.
"Say, my man, what's happening?" I say, "hold up, hold up, no, no, no, no, no," and I gotta throw out them big words.
I gotta let them know that my parents are probably smarter than your parents.
They're much better educated than your parents, but they may not have had the access that your parents had,
But this is show business.
I can climb that socioeconomical ladder, just off the merit of my skills, I can talk that shit.
It's a god-given gift, so, you know, yeah, I speak in street vernacular, cause when I'm talkin' to an audience of people, I feel comfortable, it's like an extension, really, of crowds, like, my friends, they're the most-- it's the most consistent part of my life since I was 14,
In certain situations you know I gotta use that job interview
"I don't like that deal."
[Grape Drink interlude]
That is funny.
[Question 29 - "Can you see a time in your life ever, when you won't be doing stand-up?"]
This past year, I did the least stand-up I've done since I started, cause I was freaked out man,
With the fame thing, and being called crazy, and drug addict, and all these things, uh,
It scared me, you know, being treated that way,
It's like I'm not a person anymore, you say this shit about me in front of my children,
And who, really like, who the fuck do these people think they are?
And they don't know what happened, you know,
I have not spoken about what would make a person walk off the set of a successful show, and go to Africa,
But again people don't understand it, so they call me crazy, and I don't like that.
[Question 30 - What should they understand, Dave?]
What should they understand?
Well I did two seasons, and it was very easy, not very easy, but I didn't go to Africa.
And then suddenly when I'm getting paid what they said was $50 million, I can't do it anymore, nobody knows.
Nobody remembers that I walked away from this show twice last season,
Nobody asked about, nobody asked about that, you know,
And one of these magazines, Newsweek, it's a very credible magazine,
And they're saying I'm, you know maybe I smoke crack,
And it was all innuendo, and a magazine as credible as Newsweek,
I was very surprised that this was happening,
And then I gotta make some real choices man, is that what I want for myself?
Did I get too big?
Cause I like people, I like entertaining.
And the higher up I go, for some reason, the less happy I am.
You know, is it gonna get to the point where I'm doing a striptease on TRL,
Or waving a gun on the street, saying they're trying to kill me?
No, I'm not gonna let it get to that point,
I'm gonna go to Africa,
I'm gonna find a way to, I'm gonna find a way to be myself man,
I gotta you know,
I'm an artist man, I'm, you know
I don't need a sneaker deal, I mean I'd like one if,
but-but that's kinda not,
That's not the need that makes you guys go to school,
You're not in this school right now, because you want a sneaker deal,
It'd be nice, but that's-that's not why you're here,right?
You're not here because you know,
You'd like to be in the movies, but it, to act or to entertain, or to,
It's a need that maybe a lot of your friends don't even understand,
But you got that need, and you have your dreams,
And there's only six studios man, there's only six agencies man,
This is a small controlled thing,
And I don't like having to beg for the spotlight man,
You know the machine is good for us,
And we're good for the machine,
And it should be-should be fair man, it should be fair.
[Question 31 - What did you find in africa that was an annidote to that?]
Well, a lot of things, first of all, I'm a Muslim.
I don't necessarily practice the way a good Muslim is supposed to practice,
But I believe in these tenets.
And in Africa there's a small community of people that don't know anything about the work I do,
And they just treat me like I'm a regular dude,
So I knew that in Africa I'd have a place to sleep,
And that I wouldn't have to feel strange,
And you know, when they would call me crackhead and all these things in the country where I'm from,
In Africa they didn't know anything.
They was feeding me and taking care of me,
And taking me to the mall, and just regular stuff, and it just made me feel good.
It reminded me that I was a person, you know.
I didn't even know they was saying those things about me,
Then I called home, and people be like, "Oh my God, are you alright?"
"Yeah I'm just chillin', I'm in africa baby, what's going on? "
And then I got a call from a journalist,
That had been working on a story, and he was like,
"Yeah, rumor mill's going on about ya, I just wanna clear "a few things up",
And I'm like, "Yeah, what's going on?"
"Do you smoke crack?" I said, "What?!" "Did you graduate from high school?"
It was all these crazy questions,
And I thought about never coming back.
I said this place is crazy,
Like I'm that dude.
I just thought about all the things that celebrities go through,
And what celebrities would come in our culture,
You know if you're Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston,
And your marriage is breaking up, that's a awful thing,
But to see that speculation in people, gotta sting a little bit.
And you, and then I realized, oh my god, I'm one of those people,
That's a small club man, that's a weird place to be,
There ain't really no going back,
You can't get unfamous,
You can get infamous,
But you can't get unfamous.
So I got scared, I'm not gonna lie to ya, I was scared to death.
I didn't touch the mic, but you know it was cool man.
The first time I went back out and did stand-up, it was in Cincinnati,
So it's not far from the farm, I said if I gotta run, I can get home fast
And then the club sold out real fast, I played a comedy club, and man,
When I walked out on that stage, and them people were screaming,
I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.
Cause this industry can say whatever they want,
But man people will hold you up, and that crowd man, my spirits were so low
And they was just holding me up,
And I hadn't told jokes, but that shit was just coming back like "The karate kid" again,
"You're the best around," I was just doing it man.
I don't know how this whole Dave Chappelle thing is gonna end,
But I feel like I'm gonna be some kind of parable,
By either what you're supposed to do, or what you're not supposed, see I'm gonna be something,
I'm either gonna be a legend or just that tragic fucking story but I'm going full throttle,
I'm going all the way, I wanna, I'm eager to find out how this is will resolve itself.
The way the show came about was real weird,
Cause me and neal after Half Baked, went our separate ways,
We were good friends, but it was just like leaving a crime scene or something.
And then I was sitting out on that farm rottin',
It was weird, I was watching this thing about Hugh Hefner having Playboy After Dark
I said I should do some, a show like that, that's weird, I said, let me call Neal up.
We started talking about variety shows, we wanted to do something that was real personal,
That was just, I don't know, was just, the word personal kept coming up.
[Question 32 - How long did it take you to produce the show?]
That show was a monster, you know,
When we did the show, we first come up with the format,
We were like man why hasn't anyone ever done a show like this before?
I mean 18 hour days, we writing it, we write, we look at casting tapes, we look at locations,
Every element of the show man, the show was real micro-managed, and it was coming through two dudes.
[Question 33 - One of the most famous characters appeared in the very first show, who is Clayton Bigsby?]
He's guy that writes all this subversive, white supremacist literature,
So they do this thing which is like a Frontline piece,
So they go out to the mountains to meet him, and they find out he's blind, and he's black.
[Question 34 - And doesn't know that he's black?]
He has no idea.
[Question 35 - And he is a vicious racist, right?]
[Question 36 - By any measure, opening the series with Bigsby was a gamble.]
Yeah, let me tell you, putting some like that out there is scary man,
That show was like, listen if you don't like that, you're not gonna like the show.
[Question 37 - It was a good test right?]
Not a test as much as a manifesto or a mission statement.
[I wonder dave, if you'll permit me to speak to clayton for just a moment.]
All right at your own risk.
[Question 38 - I've been at risk since we walked out on this stage, I'm doing all right-- I'm happy. Mr. Bigsby?]
WHAT DO YOU WANT, JEW?
[Question 39 - Bigsby, you'll forgive me for raising a sensitive issue, but we know from the "frontline" documentary, that you did discover that you are, how shall I put it, not white, how has that changed your life?]
Well, it's changed my life in several ways, first of all, I understand why my penis is so long.
[Question 40 - I would-i would say that's an advantage to being black.]
Yes it is, other than that, the advantages have gone down tremendously.
[Question 41 - I see, has your realization, in any way, affected or softened your attitude toward our black brothers and sisters?]
Absolutely, now I've tasted brown sugar, and I will never go back.
[Question 42 - Have you stayed in touch with your friends in the KKK?]
We still write and call each other from time to time, it's a little weird though, knowing that they knew the whole time I was black, and never told me anything about that, don't think a real good friend would do somethin' like that, do you?
[Question 43 - So tell me, do you miss the warmth of those cross burnings?]
Well, the food was good.
[Question 44 - What kind of food would you have at a cross burning, for example?]
Yeah, but you know it's, actually it was much better hangin' out with, um, fellow colored-people-- people of color, excuse me.
Uh, yes it is, the music is better turns out.
[That's true, god knows, yeah.]
Yes, and I have learned to love spice.
[I see. So you've turned your back on music like the tennessee waltz, for example?]
Sometimes I listen to it, mostly when I masturbate.
I'm sorry, I don't know what that means.
[Inside The Actor's Studio sketch]
[Question 45 - In the interest of our research, where did you ever get the idea for that extraordinary sketch?]
Well, you know man, I tell ya, I'm a big fan of your show,
And to be honest I never envisioned myself being on the show,
Just because I always thought my body of work stunk, you know,
I mean I'd see guys like Morgan Freeman on here,
Or dudes who've done like a lot of real good movies,
Because all I ever did was comedies,
I figured you know, nobody likes comedies like that, so I figured I'd just never be on.
[So you figured you were safe?]
Right-right, well you know, I figured I'd just pretend that I'd done some good movies,
And that I'd be on the show.
[Question 46 - And who's that fellow who's doing somebody who resembles me, almost as much as Will Ferrell does?]
That's this guy Bill Bogart who was actually the dad in War Games.
[Question 47 - All right, one final question about, uh, Inside okay? WHERE ARE MY FUCKING ROYALTIES?]
All right lipton, they haven't taken all the money back yet baby, here you go,
That's $200 for you.
I'm kinda rich, bitch!
[Question 48 - Who was the inspiration for "I wanna piss on you"?]
Yeah that was hilarious-- just the fact that you said that just makes me laugh,
Life is a life a trip.
R. Kelly scandal happened, which initially I wasn't gonna touch,
I'm a R.Kelly fan, but I said, but it would be funny if you be singing about like pissing on people?
And we started cracking up laughing, you know,
Whenever we started cracking up laughing you know, it's like which feels funny.
[Pee on You Interlude]
[Question 49 - Who wrote Charlie Murphy's true hollywood stories?]
During the first season, I kept saying I want to do something about Rick James, but I had nothing.
And then you know Charlie Murphy, he tells these crazy stories at lunch,
The short answer is is as Charlie Murphy wrote it, because he told that story.
[Rick James Interlude]
[Question 50 - While Dave was shooting Chappelle Show, Richard Pryor's wife spoke for her husband, because M.S. had deprived him of the ability to communicate, and what she said was that Richard Pryor felt that he had passed the torch to Dave Chappelle, were you aware of that?]
Yeah I was.
[On Pryor's influence]
You know, those like evolution charts?
He was the dude walking upright.
Richard was, he was that, the highest evolution of comedy, there was an article I had read after he died, I think said it best, the mark of greatness is when everything before you is obsolete, and everything after you bears your mark, and what a precedent he set, not just as a comic, but as a dude, the fact that someone was able to open themselves wide open like that, and it's so hard to talk in front of people, or to open yourself up to your closest friends, but to open yourself up for everybody. yeah.
I free base, I beat my women, I shot my car, and nobody's mad at richard for that, they-they understand, and somehow they just understand, and when I was going through this thing this year, that is the example I would think to myself, that gave me the courage to just go back on the stage.
[Nigga Family Interlude]
[On the N-word]
I'm gonna have to say that if used incorrectly, the venom's still there,
That word could still start a fight, now I've had situations where white people would come out to me,
They'd be like, "That sketch you did about the nigger's was great"
And I'll be like, "Ooh I wanna fight you."
Yeah man, I still say it in personal conversation with my friends,
I say it sometimes on stage at the comedy club,
And I'm not gonna make a promise that I won't say it again on television,
But right now I just feel like people aren't responsible enough.
Certain things I've been through in the last year, and certain things I've heard people say,
And also all the older black women in my family, been tearing me a new asshole for saying it,
Like they really get on me about it, and you know.
But it opened up a dialogue with this, we never had before.
[For the record, the DVD of the first season of "chappelle's show", is the best selling tv to dvd set ever.]
[Question 52 - What is "Block Party?"]
Man, one of the first things I did when I made this big deal,
Was I called my friend Corey over here--I met Corey in Ohio,
He was working with De La Soul, at the time.
The concept became let's do a block party, and I mean everyone came out,
Kweli came out, Common came out, Mos came out, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, The Roots,
And then to top it all off, The Fugees reunited.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my career,
I mean it's literally like it was the concert I always wanted to see,
It was all my favorite musicians, they were making the kind of music they wanted to make,
They were having fun, they were all friends, I was like man, you can do that.
So when I got my chance to do what I wanted to do, I put them in it, I look at it,
And that's my life man, these guys
Are like my friends and they're my inspiration.
[Question 52 - We begin our classroom with the questionnaire that was invented and used for 26 glorious years by Bernard Pivot, Dave what is your favorite word?]
[Question 53 - What is your least favorite word?
[Question 54 - What turns you on?]
I'm an ass man, like I like girls with titties and ass.
[Question 55 - What turns you off?]
I don't know, hair.
[Question 56 - What sound or noise do you love?]
[Question 57 - What sound or noise do you hate?]
[Question 58 - Dave Chappelle, what's your favorite curse word?]
Fuck is my favorite, like I say it a lot, you know, fuck yeah I say it a lot.
I'm trying not to curse anymore.
[Question 59 - Are you really?]
Nah, I'm just fucking with you.
[That was damn near perfect.]
I know, we gotta do something together.
[I'm good straight man.]
I was thinking we could do like a cop movie or something?
[Question 60 - What profession other than your own, would you like to attempt?]
You know I always thought about being a teacher actually,
It sounds real corny, but I feel like I could stand up in front of the class,
I could tell 'em stuff, and they might actually, I don't know, learn something.
[Question 61 - What profession would you not like to participate in?]
At this point, having not worked in so many months,
It's hard to say what I wouldn't want to do, I wanna, I need a job.
[Question 62 - Finally, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Congratulations bill, you're a law.
[Okay dave, here are your students.]
[Student Question 1 - You know you have Chappelle Show, this almost like overnight success.
Do you still feel that it was kinda maybe too much all at once,
Or do you feel that, again with your, again with a decade's worth of work do you feel it is deserved?"]
You know I deserved something,
I mean literally, deserved is a really, deserved is a tough word,
But the show had, it all seemed like a logical progression,
You know like, I could of pulled a Lebron and exploded when I was a kid,
But it didn't happen that way, and I'm probably better for it,
Like had I got that kind--i'm 32 and I went to Africa, so I can only imagine what would happen if I was like 19 and had Chappelle Show, or if I could even of handled, it's a tremendous responsibility having a show like that.
But, um everything was going fine I think, until season three I mean,
And it wasn't the fame that got to me. I love people,
I like people saying that they like what I do, and you know,
It's just a whole, you know, it's like a economic threshold you cross man,
You know, they were throwing out numbers like $50 million,
You put that in the paper next to your name,
And that guy's gonna have some serious problems in his personal life,
There's no question, you know, I like to live a more open life,
I don't like to have to protect myself from people,
I don't want my life to become about enforcing boundaries, you know,
But that's what happens when you become successful, your humanity diminishes,
And you become something else to people.
You ever see the cartoons where they're hungry, and he looks over at his buddy, and his buddy look like a chicken dinner,
That's kinda like, it's kinda like that.
[Student Question 2 - Early Inspirations]
You know who was a big influence on me that is really weird is Bugs Bunny,
That's just weird.
If you watch a lot of the stuff I do, you can almost see the influence in it,
Because these animators would animate these performances that were off the hook,
And the guy that, the guy that did the voices was Mel Blanks,
This guy was like some kind of savant or genius or something,
But they had some kind of real big comedic influence on me, like I liked those cartoons,
I think that was my first real big comedy influence, was a rabbit.
[Student Question 3 - How do you stay down to earth?]
Skylar, I'm going through some real tough real times, some nitty gritty stuff,
And when you go through things like this, it helps you put it all in perspective.
I'm famous today, people like me today, they might not like me tomorrow, you never know,
You can't count on it, the world can't tell ya who you are,
You just gotta figure out who you are, and be that for better or for worse.
[Student Question 4 - How do you deal with whistle blowers/PC-police]
You know I don't deal with them, I think that America needs a honest discourse with themselves,
This is like the greatest country in the world by default.
You know what I mean, but we could actually be the greatest country that ever existed if we were just honest about who we are, and what we are, and where we want to go, and if we learn how to have that discourse.
Things like racism are institutionalized, it's systemic, you might not know any bigots, you feel like,
"Well, I don't hate black people, so I'm not a racist,"
But you benefit from racism, just by the merit of the color of your skin,
There's opportunities that you have,
You're privileged in ways that you may not even realize,
Cause you haven't been deprived in certain ways.
We need to talk about these things, in order for them to change,
I do the show, I walk down the street, black people like it, white people, the generations,
It doesn't matter, because it needs to be talked about,
It's like the elephant in the living room,
That nobody says anything about it, so when the Bigsby thing came out,
There was a lady from Texas that called comedy central,
I mean damn near 100 times, she was furious with me,
I wasn't mad at her for being mad at me, it's like okay that's good, you know,
Not good that she's mad at me, but she's entitled to her opinion, and maybe she's right,
I don't know, I just thought it was funny, and that's what I did,
I'm a comedian man, that's how I look at the world and that's what I'm spittin' out.
I don't I don't judge people or not like people for thinking,
You know people that I love tell me I go too far sometimes, maybe I went too far but I did it.
You know, and plus the only way you know what a line is to cross it, and I think that,
What is life if nobody's crossing the line, you just want to try to be on the right side of history,
Sometimes what's going on in the immediate present, is not as important as the long term.
The truth is permanent, and then everything else will fall by the wayside.
Edit news description to add:
- Historical context: how the event or text affects the world and history
- An explanation of the work's overall story (example: "Here, President Obama confirms the legality of drone strikes...")
- The work's impact on current issues