Dave Chappelle is everyone’s favorite funnyman, having a wildly successful sketch comedy show, along with a brilliant stand-up career. But there are a few facts you might not know about Chappelle, some of which may even surprise you. Chappelle is set to make a major return to television when he hosts Saturday Night Live, so we here at Obsev would like to present you with 10 fun tidbits of information you never knew about Dave Chappelle.
10. He was inspired by Bill Cosby – In hindsight, Bill Cosby might not have been the greatest personal hero, but Cosby’s immense success inspired Chapelle to pursue comedy. At age 14 Chapelle read an article about Cosby in a magazine and realized that being funny full-time was and achievable goal for a smart mouthed black kid. Since Cosby’s controversy however, Chappelle has turned on his idle, and uses Cosby as a punch line in his stand-up.
9. He met Muhammed Ali as toddler – When Chappelle was 2 years old his mother arranged a meet-up with The Greatest. Even at that small age Chappelle was a fan of the championship boxer. When Ali died, Chappelle set out time to travel to his funeral and has publicly described the champion as “beyond royalty”
8. He Still Performs – While Dave Chapelle hasn’t had a TV stand-up special in over a decade, Chapelle still performs live. You haven’t seen much of him because his recent tour has been strictly enforcing a no-phone policy where attendee’s cellphones are locked away to prevent jokes leaking onto the internet. Chapelle believes that smart phones are destroying comedy, saying that bootleg cellphone footage exposes the surprises in comedians’ sets. “So many people record your shows and put them on the Internet before you get a chance to do it, it’s hard to write fast enough to surprise an audience.” Despite his no cell-phone policy and time away from the spotlight, his shows still sell out in minutes.
7. He’s a World of Warcraft Fan – Dave Chappelle is an avid gamer, as evidenced by his Grand Theft Auto sketch, but did you know he also played World of Warcraft in its heyday? Chapelle has publicly referenced the MMORPG in interviews several times, praising his geeky “brothers and sister”, and giving a shout out to a Rogue he says was named after his famous Rick James sketch. Fans have reported seeing him logging into the game at restaurants and cafes. He has also jokingly blamed his hiatus on his WoW addiction.
6. He’s Muslim – Dave Chappelle converted to Islam in 1998. He once said “I don’t normally talk about my religion publicly because I don’t want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing, and I believe it is beautiful if you learn it the right way.” In fact, Chappelle used his 2004 trip to Africa partially as a spiritual retreat to better align himself with his religious values.
5. He Studied Theatre – Chapelle attended Duke Ellington school of the Arts in high school where he studies theatre arts. Once enrolled, he began doing stand-up shortly after. In 2015 Chappelle returned to give the graduating class their commencement speech. During his return he recalled almost not receiving his diploma for having due library books.
4. You can thank Playboy for his show – As the story goes, one night Dave Chapelle was watching episodes of Hugh Hefner’s 1960s talkshow Playboy After Dark, when he decided to call his writing partner Neal Brennan up to discuss how they could create their own variety show. Neither had experience with writing sketches, so they began by researching SNL. Soon after, the pair pitched out two sketches, one being an early draft of “Pop Copy”. Allegedly HBO passed on the show, but Comedy Central picked it up and the rest is history.
3. He opened for Aretha Franklin at 19 – At the start of his career, he opened a show for Aretha Franklin at Radio City Music Hall. He performed 15 minutes at the prominent theatre, but the crowd only heard 12 of them. The young comedian foolishly skipped his sound check and sound problems plagued the first 3 minutes of his set.
2. He was only in Africa for two weeks – The media likes to exaggerate how long Chappelle disappeared for, but in reality he was only gone for two weeks. Chappelle also never technically quit the show, and jokes that he is just really late for work.
1. The real reason he left the show. – Lots of speculation surrounds Dave Chapelle’s exit from the Chapelle Show. Mental illness, drugs, and creative differences have all been blamed for Chappelle’s decision to walk away from his 50 million dollar contract. While Chapelle did check into mental health center while in Africa, he mostly attributes the decision to leave as a moral one.