At its height, Chappelle’s Show became one of the hottest show on TV. It came at a time when Comedy Central’s only hits were The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and South Park. Fans were saying “I’m Rick James, bitch!” and talking about Chappelle’s brilliant sketches like the black Ku Klux Klan leader and “Moments in the Life of Lil’ Jon. After the popularity of the first two seasons, Comedy Central offered Dave Chappelle $50 million for more seasons, but during work on season three, Chappelle left the show, production shut down, and the series ended. It was an abrupt end to a show that was embedding itself in the Zeitgeist. Questions have always surrounded his exit, and talking with David Letterman on The Late Show, Chappelle talked about why he left.
“Technically, I never quit,” says Chappelle. “I’m seven years late for work.” Hit the jump for more.
Discussing why he left Chappelle’s Show, Chappelle was still somewhat evasive and clearly ambivalent about deciding to end the series. Leaving $50 million on the table, most people would be. Surprisingly, he didn’t touch on sketches he wanted to do or any behind-the-scenes conflict. Instead, Chappelle and Letterman talked about the fallout following his exit rather than the specific reasons for why he didn’t return for work.
From time to time, I wonder what would have happened if Chappelle’s Show remained on the air. The show was so sharp in its racial satire, and I remain curious as to how Chappelle would have handled Barack Obama, especially since one of Chappelle’s sketches was about a black president.
Additionally, it would have been fun to see more Charlie Murphy stories, more of Chappelle’s recurring characters, and any new characters he and his writers might have dreamt up. At the very least, he’s continuing to do stand-up, so we should all be grateful for that.
Here’s his interview with Letterman talking about life post-Chappelle’s Show [via Vulture]: