Is this the year Dave Chappelle marks as his “official” comeback? It’s been quite some time since his last special, For What It’s Worth, 10 years ago. Over the last few years, Chappelle has been making routine stops on stage in Los Angeles, toured all across the country, hit some festivals, and a NYC residency.
Some shows have been marathons, some shows have been quick cameos. But one thing we do know is the desire to see Chappelle live is as high as it’s ever been. Now back to the rumor at hand. Comedy Hype first reported that Chappelle has just taped his latest comedy special down at Austin City Limits in Texas and and it will be premiering on HBO at some point down the road as no proper date has been announced and the special is currently untitled. Since this news first leaked out, more reports and social media accounts confirmed that Chappelle indeed taped the performance. Additional reports also state the special was not taped for HBO, and that Chappelle decided to do it himself and simply invited network brass like HBO, Showtime, and others to attend. While the network attachment is still in question, the taping is not.
Back in June of 2004 at a stand-up performance in Sacramento, California, Chappelle walked off the stage after berating his audience for constantly shouting “I’m Rick James, bitch!”, which became a catchphrase from his popular “Rick James” sketch. After a few minutes, Chappelle returned and resumed by saying, “The show is ruining my life.” He stated that he disliked working “20 hours a day” and that the popularity of the show was making it difficult for him to continue his stand-up career, which was “the most important thing” to him.
In one of the most surprising and talked about moves in television history, Chappelle walked, at the height of the show’s success. Immediately following Chappelle’s departure, tabloids quickly and repeatedly speculated that Chappelle’s exit was driven by drug addiction or a mental health issue, rather than ethical or personal concerns. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Chappelle expressed his contempt for the entertainment industry’s tone-deafness toward black entertainers and audiences telling her, “When I see that they put every black man in the movies in a dress at some point in their career, I start connecting the dots.” The show is long gone, but Chappelle is back front and center. And a new special would put him right back where he was, only this time, on his terms. More to come as the story develops.