"The hardest thing to do is to be true to yourself, especially when everybody is watching."
Dave Chappelle was born on August 24, 1973 in Washington, D.C. His first credited role was in Mel Brooks
' Robin Hood: Men in Tights
as "Ahchoo." He was offered the chance to star as Bubba in Forrest Gump
, but he turned down the role, believing that the movie would flop at the box office
(a decision he would come to regret). Chappelle wrote and starred in the classic stoner film Half Baked
. He is best known, however, for his sketch comedy show on Comedy Central named (appropriately) Chappelle's Show
. The show lasted from 2003 to 2006. During this time he came out with several sketches that enjoyed wide success—most famously in which Chappelle plays a disorderly Rick James, driving the phrase "I'm Rick James, bitch!" deep into American culture
. Chappelle received two Emmy nominations for his show.
Chapelle's career abruptly ended when he decided the fame was becoming too much and people were laughing at his jokes for the wrong reasons
. He took an unannounced sabbatical in South Africa and then returned home to spend time with his family. He has appeared on stand up stages, talk shows, and occasional independent projects, but he has had no desire to reclaim the fame
he walked away from at its height.
Roles of Note:
- Catch Phrase: Becoming a Phrase Catcher for his own show bits led in part to his hiatus in Africa.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: He prefers a quiet life on a ranch in Ohio than being rich and famous.
- Creator Breakdown: When it all became too much, he simply walked away. The rumor mill had all kinds of insane stories that he was locked up in an asylum, or had run away. In reality, he took some time off and decided it wasn't worth coming back to.
- Doing It for the Art: He walked away from a $50 million contract because he just didn't want to do the show again, instead choosing to make infrequent stand-up appearances.
- Large Ham: Most of his characters are loud, boisterous, and have a tendency to do a lot of yelling.
- N-Word Privileges: Chappelle explored the word on many different levels, pushing what was OK to say on TV and diving into the culture behind it. When people started treating the word casually because of how mainstream his work had become, he was very taken aback.
- Reclusive Artist: There's a reason he's called "The J. D. Salinger of comedy".
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Many of his most famous sketches included punctuated curses: "I'm Rick James, Bitch!" "Sam Jackson's beer! It'll get you drunk! Mmm mmm, bitch!"
- Uncle Tomfoolery: One of the reasons he decided to end his show was because people were starting to see his characters this way. Instead of making fun of the stereotypes and showing how ridiculous they were, people were laughing at the stereotype.
- White Like Me: One of his recurring bits was to dress or talk as an "average white man" to play on white stereotypes.