Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Chapelle Theory

Dave Chappelle imploded his career like no one before. I saw him twice in the early 90's; once in Washington Square Park, proclaiming as loud as possible to anyone who would listen and once in my student lounge, talking to the seven people there through a cheap microphone. I can't say I was blown away but I was impressed with how hard the guy worked. Over the next ten years, I heard him on Howard Stern and saw him in that Mel Brooks Robin Hood movie and think, "this guy is gonna be huge." But it never happened.

Then he got a show on Comedy Central. I wasn't hopeful. Lots of good comedians have had shows on Comedy Central that ran six weeks. Dana Gould, for example, had an excellent one. I checked out the first few episodes of "Chappelle's Show" and always came away with the same opinion; one great sketch, lots of junk. The guy really needed to build a group around him. Just seeing him surrounded by day players wasn't strong enough. He needed comic voices who were as talented as he was, working just as hard.

Somehow, a few months later, it was the hottest show on the network. It was the biggest tv box set ever. Comedy Central gave him a record 50 million dollar deal. It must have been a record because I don't know what anyone else got. I have no idea what Jon Stewart or the South Park guys make but Chappelle's salary was headline news.

And then he ran away. He just ran away. Not like Martin Lawrence, firing a pistol on the street in his underwear. Not like James Brown in a high speed chase. No, he just ran away. To Africa. He claimed he couldn't trust anybody anymore. I still maintain if he had found people he could trust early on, he wouldn't have had to give back the 50 mil.

But my opinion is nothing compared to this guy's site. Our old friend Dave W. sent it to me and man, have I missed conspiracy theorists. This webmaster is king of the lunatics. Just picturing Al Sharpton, Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey sequestered in a hotel scheming, "What's to be done with this Dave Chappelle?" It's too good to miss.

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