American actor, comedian, writer and producer Dave Chappelle has been in the business on and off since the late 80s and is widely recognised as one of the greatest comedians of all time. His early 2000s skit show on Comedy Central named “Chappelle’s Show” is to this day considered one of the best and most iconic skit shows ever made, receiving praise worldwide and containing infamous sketches such as the “I’m Rick James, bitch” story as told by the late Charlie Murphy.
Chappelle’s observational skills and satirical look on life have earned him extensive praise and recognition from people of all walks of life, even earning him the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2019. Among those who gave speeches to honour Chappelle at the event were Jon Stewart, Bradley Cooper, Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman and Chris Tucker. He has also won Emmy Awards and even Grammy Awards.
Born in Washington D.C in the early 70s, Chappelle often talks about how he didn’t grow up in the so-called “ghetto” as most people might assume. He actually made a joke about it in one of his later specials for Netflix, stating that he gets jealous of people like Nas when they tell stories about growing up in the projects. Multiple times he mentions growing up in a poor household but having white friends.
Beginning his comedy career in his mid teens, Chappelle honed his skills for humour over a number of years, performing endlessly in local clubs before getting his first big break. His stand up specials are among the best ever made and many comedians have outwardly stated that Chappelle is far better than any of them, and that they have learnt a lot from him both on and off the stage.
Through the 90s and early 2000s, he appeared in numerous films playing small, supporting roles. These included Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), The Nutty Professor (1996), Con Air (1997), You’ve Got Mail (1998), Blue Streak (1999) and Undercover Brother (2002) alongside fellow comedian Eddie Griffin as the lead role.
One of the biggest controversies of his life came in 2005 when he quit Chappelle’s Show and walked away from a $50 million deal with Comedy Central. He explained that his decision to leave the show and break the contract was due to ethical and moral decisions, losing respect for the industry and not wanting to be tied to it for the way it had devoured him over the previous years. However it was widely reported in the tabloids that it was due to mental health and drug addiction - none of which was true.
Dave Chappelle’s return to comedy through Netflix was extremely well received and long-awaited, especially by his avid fans who had been waiting almost 10 years for more genius comedy. In 2016, Netflix announced that he would be returning with 3 specials for their platform - Chappelle was reportedly paid a whopping $20 million PER special (he has since made 5 in total).
What makes Dave Chappelle such an inspiration?
He worked very hard to reach the position he's in now. Fame didn't come to him overnight, and even a man as talented as Dave had to spend years honing his skills and working on his craft. He's been booed off stage before and he's certainly had his failures. But he stuck to it and persevered. He did so while being a devoted husband and raising a family.
Aside from his incredible skill for comedy, Chappelle is actually a very ethical and sincere man. He chooses to spend his time not living in Hollywood surrounded by fame and glamour, but instead in rural Ohio, on a farm with his family. He also mostly stays away from social media.
If you listen to what Chappelle says, both during his stand ups and during interviews, his outlook on life is highly perceptive and he views society and culture in a way that many don’t - this ability is what gives him the means to make such good observational humour. Although being known for making tongue-in-cheek jokes and making slightly controversial comments, they’re often backed up with an interesting opinion and justification. He doesn’t berate or bash anyone or anything without some kind of perspective or reason as to why he’s making jokes about that topic.
Chappelle has done a lot for others throughout his life and career. Despite being a very rich and very famous man, he remains humble and honest. He regularly does gigs for free and in the past has been known to put on events for people to enjoy in light of difficult times or situations (such as school shootings). He openly gives advice to people and has before sat on a stage and taken questions from the audience for most of a show, just to allow people to converse with him.
"Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate."
- Dave Chappelle
A kind, talented and funny man, he has earned his spot on Bald World’s first article on bald celebrities. Chappelle once joked about his hair; being that he has a white grandparent he joked that his hair is actually beautiful and if he grew it out, you'd think you were at a Katt Williams show.