Dave Chappelle Explains His Onstage Texting, Why He Won't Return To Television
Dave Chappelle pulled one of the most impressive disappearing acts in the history of the entertainment industry in 2005, when he left the production of the third season of Chappelle's Show, took a trip to South Africa, and effectively dropped out of the spotlight entirely. He hasn't been a J.D. Salinger-style hermit or anything, doing stand-up shows in various clubs and appearing on Inside the Actor's Studio, but it's a sharp contrast from 2004 and 2005, when the popularity of Chappelle's Show suggested he could do pretty much anything.
The abrupt trip to South Africa is the most famous evidence of Chappelle's somewhat temperamental attitude, which seemed to flare up again back in June, when he responded to a heckling crowd by checking his phone onstage and reportedly told one joke over the course of 46 minutes. Now Chappelle has spoken up to explain the incident, giving his first interview in five years that's sadly not nearly as insightful as you might want from a comedian this talented, but at least sheds light on what happened to make him so hostile onstage. As it turns out it's the usual answer: the audience was being jerks, so he was a jerk right back to them. And because the jerks in the front row happened to be the Seminole Indians who ran the Florida casino where he was playing, it was a much harder situation to defuse than it might have been.
It's hard to watch this interview and not wish it was someone other than a bunch of Morning Zoo yahoos asking the questions-- Chappelle is being patient, friendly, and remarkably open given how private he normally is, and all they do is make references to his old Chappelle's Show characters and throw out lame jokes. In the second half of the interview they ask him if he'll ever return to television, and he responds with a pretty clever metaphor calling fame a drug, essentially saying "No way in hell am I going back to that place." He also admits he hasn't yet listened to Watch The Throne, in case you were wondering about that. If you can tolerate even more of this awkward interview, keep watching below.