Saturday, 29 October 2011
Dave Chapelle is one of my favourite comedians ever, infact he's reminiscent of Richard Pryor, one of the greatest. More so than a lot of other comedians who think they are. I love The Dave Chapelle Show which only ran for three seasons. I think Dave is a genius. That show was a massive hit and seemed to appeal to everybody; black, white,asian, hispanic.
I remember being on holiday in America during it's peak and it was all anybody could talk about. Radio stations and the media were buzzing about The Dave Chapelle Show.
So why was that show such a massive hit? I think the crux of it is this: Dave was able to mock the dynamics of race in a hilarious, intelligent way using fresh angles. Some of the sketches were incredibly controversial and I remember being surprised that white people seemed to love him so much and I wondered why that was. I think the answer is that Dave was mocking people's racial prejudices without making them feel guilty about it on the surface. He was commenting on said privelleges but in a very very clever way. And if you went away and processed some of the sketches, there were subliminal messages hidden behind the laughs.
Dave walked away from a 50million dollar contract to make season 4 of the show (the higest paid contract on offer to a comedian ever). He disappeared to Africa leaving the media agog with speculation. Was Dave Chapelle having a mental breakdown? Had Dave Chapelle been doing drugs? Did he crack under the pressure? I think Dave Chapelle walking away from that amount of money shows he's a man of integrity. A lot of people would sell their souls to the devil for that kind of cash. Maybe he suspected he would lose creative control and the show would become a different animal. Maybe he didn't trust the people close to him anymore. I think Dave was in it for the craft, he's an artist and yes a certain level of fame was great but it was a by product. He was already totally freaked out by people recognising him on the street. I think that when the realisation dawned he was about to go stratospheric he knew he couldn't handle that level of fame and scrutiny so he gave it all up and walked away. He had to put his mental health first. So baffled were the media by this, a Time Magazine journalist tracked him down to Africa for an interview. Dave absolutely intrigues me. Check out The Dave Chapelle Show, it's easily available online through various channells, it's provocative and freaking hilarious.