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Chappelle's Show was an Americanmarker comedy television series created by comedian Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan, with Chappelle hosting the show as well as starring in various skits. Chappelle, Brennan and Michele Armour were the show's executive producers. The series premiered on January 22, 2003 on the U.S.marker cable television network Comedy Central. The show ran for two complete seasons and a third, truncated season (dubbed "The Lost Episodes").

After numerous delays, production of the third season of the show was abruptly ended when Chappelle left the show. Three episodes were compiled from the completed work and these episodes aired from July 9 to July 23, 2006. Re-runs frequently air on Comedy Central and around the world on Comedy Central in Germanymarker, The Comedy Network in Canada, The Comedy Channel and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) in Australia and FX in the United Kingdommarker.

Today, Chappelle's Show is shown on WGN America and is syndicated to various television stations across the U.S.

Format

The show opens with Chappelle being introduced over the instrumental from the song "Hip-Hop", from the album Let's Get Free by Dead Prez. Chappelle performs a short stand up in front of a live audience, which serves to introduce the upcoming skit. The focus then shifts to a prerecorded sketch that appears on a screen that is to Chappelle's left (or right for the first episode). The show is notorious for its handling of the topic of sexuality and Chappelle's casual usage of racial epithets, categorizing the show as a racial comedy. The show also handles such topics as prostitution, the entertainment industry, gun violence, numerous drug references (particularly marijuana, PCP, and crack cocaine) and music, all performed in a comedic fashion with a touch of antagonism. The TV-MA, TV-14 rated show is controversial in its use of young child actors for some skits. The show ends with a musical performance by a hip hop or soul artist.

Cast



Episodes

There have been three seasons of Chappelle's Show produced, totaling 28 episodes. There have also been four "mixtapes" and one "music jump-off" episode, highlighting the best sketches and musical acts of each season, respectively. Combined, this makes 33 complete episodes.

Notable sketches

Rather than acting out sketches in front of a live studio audience, the sketches are prerecorded with the audience reaction usually used in lieu of a laugh track. According to Neal Brennan in Season 2 DVD commentary, regarding the "Dude's Night Out" sketch, they had to edit in prerecorded laughs due to the lack of reaction from the audience.

Frontline - A spoof of the PBS series Frontline. The first Frontline sketch, Blind Supremacy, featured the life of Clayton Bigsby (played by Chappelle), a biography of a blind white supremacist who is not aware that he is actually a black man. This was in the opening episode of the first season and helped Chappelle gain significance for the way that the sketch gratuitously used the word "nigger" (mostly spoken by Chappelle's character). The sketch has been compared to an iconic Saturday Night Live sketch from 1975 featuring Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor which similarly satirized racist language. Other Frontline sketches featured stories of racist animal actors and gay versions of everything from the DMV to the KKK.

Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories - Charlie Murphy (who also wrote the sketch) retells events of the 1980s, the most popular being the Rick James story with Murphy as himself and Chappelle as James, including incidents such as James slapping Murphy, interspersed with scenes of the present-day Rick James (portrayed by James himself), trying to cover up for his past behavior, saying, "Cocaine's a hell of a drug." The sketch spawned one of the show's popular catchphrases, "I'm Rick James, bitch!", which Chappelle as James repeatedly declares. The sketch attained even greater public attention when, in 2005, a candidate for city council in Hattiesburg, Mississippimarker, also named Rick James but unrelated to the singer, had many of his Vote Rick James campaign signs defaced or stolen by fans of the sketch. The other "True Hollywood Story" depicted Murphy and his crew playing a pickup game of basketball against none other than Prince. While not as popular as Rick James, this segment was still well-received among fans.

A Moment in the Life of Lil' Jon - Chappelle plays rapper/producer Lil' Jon doing normal, everyday tasks, with a vocabulary consisting of almost nothing but the words 'Yeah!', 'WHAT?!', and 'O-kay!' The real Lil' Jon appeared in one sketch with Chappelle's character, using his catchphrases in an excessively dignified accent, perhaps as a reference to his upper-class background. The rapper credited the sketch with increasing his visibility.

Wayne Brady's Show - After Dave Chappelle quits the show in an opening segment that ironically mirrored the contract negotiations for the aborted third season, Wayne Brady (portraying himself) takes over as host and is asked to emcee the remaining episodes of the series since Chappelle had already filmed the remaining sketches. Regretting the decision to leave the show, Chappelle returns and confronts Brady. The ensuing confrontation leads to the airing of a flashback to a night of misadventures involving the two that portrays Brady (contrary to his friendly public image) as a murderous, pimping and seriously disturbed psychopath in the mold of Denzel Washington's character from the film Training Day. The skit was prompted by a prior sketch where Negrodamus states that "White people love Wayne Brady, because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X."

Recurring characters

  • Robot Dancing Man - Set designer Karl Lake did the Robot dance in random places, including a barbershop, club, and a courtroom (in a deleted scene). In the skits, he is generally not acknowledged, despite the out-of-place behavior, nor does he acknowledge anyone. There have been a few exceptions to this rule. One of them is during the Slow-Motion skit, in the club, when Dave acknowledges him by saying "The Robot", and emulating him. Another is when Wayne Brady "takes over" the show, during one of the commercial break intros; Wayne is looking at Robot Man's moves and then proceeds to dance with him. Also, in the opening theme for Season 3, Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings have hogtied and taken the place of the two men who start off the show. Robot Man is seen in the background doing his dance and the harmonica player yells out "Robot, help us!", but to no avail.
  • Tron Carter - a cocaine dealer (played by Chappelle) originally shown in a sketch where he has received reparations for slavery and due to a "hot hand in a dice game" becomes the richest man in America. When asked about the infant he carts around in a stroller, Tron says, "I bought this baby straight cash." He is also one of the roommates in The Mad Real World. Later in a spoof of Law & Order, Tron gets the same lenient treatment as those involved in White-collar crime, invoking the "FiF" in response to every question. Tron also appeared in the first episode of Season 3 in a skit in which he described an altercation with Method Man and was tortured by the methods described in the song "Method Man" from Enter the Wu-Tang . In the reparations episode he is shown gambling in Brooklyn and described as a Harlemmarker resident, but in another episode he is shown in his house on "Everglade Boulevard" bagging up cocaine and watching the fictitious R. Kelly music video "Piss On You" and he receives a phone call from the Dade County Police Department, suggesting he lives in Miami.
  • Negrodamus - a black prophet and fortune teller (played by Paul Mooney). In the sketch, people (mostly white) ask him various questions such as "Negrodamus, why do white people love Wayne Brady so much?" to which he replies "White people love Wayne Brady because he makes...Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X." (This clip was later shown as a drug hallucination in the Wayne Brady sketch.)


  • Tyrone Biggums - A squeaky-voiced crack addict recognized by his white, cocaine-encrusted lips and constant scratching. His first appearance was in the second episode of Season 1. He is often heard saying "I smoke rocks" and "SHAZAM!" Tyrone enjoys eating peanut butter and crack sandwiches, and was the spokesman for "Red Balls," an energy drink made from cocaine.
  • Andy "Silky" Johnson - A notorious player hater who won the fictitious "Hater of the Year" award twice (one of which was for calling a bomb threat on the Special Olympics), and who later traveled back in time to "hate" in the past.
  • Chuck Taylor - The lead "white" anchor on the fictitious "News 3", played by Chappelle in whiteface makeup and a blonde wig. Taylor has appeared in a few skits, the first of which was the Reparations skit from Season 1.
  • Leonard Washington - Washington first appeared in the first season sketch Trading Spouses, wherein he acted as the patriarch of a white family for a month. Notably, when entering rooms unfamiliar to him, Washington will look out the windows to see if he is being followed. He also expressed his displeasure that many white families do not use washcloths when taking a shower or bath. One of the only things that can make Leonard Washington back down is being shot. When asked for his hometown in the World Series of Dice skit, Washington replied, "Where I'm from? A little town called none ya goddamn bidness [business]." He has a wife and a son, T-Mart. He is seemingly unaware of white culture, unknowing of Renee Zellweger (as he stated in "Trading Spouses" after reading "White People Magazine").
  • Ashy Larry - A shirtless black man with flaky-white skin and chapped lips, who is always seen wearing a pair of white boxer shorts (played by Donnell Rawlings). He appeared in the World Series of Dice skit, in one of Chappelle's daydreams during a boring dinner conversation, and was seen holding Dave Chappelle's $50 Million dollar check in one of the Lost Episodes. "Ashy Larry" is also one of the names Wayne Brady calls the PCP he gives to Dave in the Wayne Brady sketch.


Frequent or notable guest stars

Many guest stars have appeared on the show, including RZA, GZA, Damon Dash, Redman, Ice-T, Arsenio Hall, Wayne Brady, Common, Mos Def, Eddie Griffin, Susan Sarandon, Rashida Jones, Jamie Foxx, Carson Daly, Michael Rapaport and Fear Factor's Joe Rogan. Brady was the only guest to appear on stage. Musical guests who appeared on the show include De La Soul, Ludacris, Talib Kweli, GZA, Fat Joe, Wyclef Jean, Killer Mike, Big Boi (as OutKast), Anthony Hamilton, Common, Kanye West, DMX, Busta Rhymes, Slum Village, John Mayer, Questlove, Snoop Dogg, Cee-Lo, Vida Guerra, Erykah Badu, and Lil Jon.

Third season delays

2004

During a June 2004 stand-up performance in Sacramento, Californiamarker, Chappelle left the stage due to audience members interrupting the show by shouting "I'm Rick James, bitch!," which became a catchphrase from the popular ""Rick James" sketch . After a few minutes, Chappelle returned and continued 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. He also told the audience:

2005

The third season of Chappelle's Show was scheduled to premiere in February 2005. This date was pushed back to May 31, 2005 when production fell behind schedule in December 2004 because, according to Comedy Central, Chappelle had fallen ill with the flu (Chappelle later told Oprah Winfrey that this was untrue and that stress had caused him to leave). On May 4, 2005, just weeks before the anticipated premiere, Comedy Central announced that Chappelle's Show would not be ready by the announced date and that production had been suspended "until further notice." No reason for the delay or suspension was given and there was no response from Chappelle. One week later it was reported (most notably by The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly) that Chappelle had previously flown to South Africa on April 28 to stay in an undisclosed psychiatric facility.

On May 14, TIME announced that one of their reporters, Christopher John Farley, had interviewed Chappelle in South Africa, and that no psychiatric treatments were occurring or necessary. Chappelle returned shortly thereafter and quelled rumors of psychiatric or substance abuse problems, and emphasized that his trip was a "spiritual retreat" intended to keep his sense of reality outside the bubble of intense pressure and fame and to keep his humor fresh.

Shortly after his return from South Africa, Chappelle returned to his home in the town of Yellow Springs, Ohiomarker. Following that, he gave a series of surprise performances at small comedy clubs near his home. The small-town community was supportive of his return, and worked hard to honor his wish to live a normal life and escape constant public attention.

On July 14, Comedy Central president Doug Herzog announced that Chappelle was welcome back any time, but that the comedian had said he was still not ready to return. Herzog put a positive spin on negotiations, but conceded that he did not expect Chappelle's Show to return in 2005. It was also reported in the New York Times that Chappelle explained to Herzog, over dinner, that his success was getting to him and that "he wanted to be wrong again sometimes, instead of always being right."

In an August 2005 interview with TV Guide, Charlie Murphy said that Chappelle's Show was finished. Chappelle, on the other hand, had yet to announce this to the public. On December 11, during Comedy Central's Last Laugh '05, a promo for the third season of the show was aired.

2006

On January 24, 2006, the program premiered uncensored on the UK's FX, starting with the second season. The first episode featured the Slow Motion skit, one of the most famous in the United Kingdom, popularized by the Internet. It was well received by critics, with outspoken TV critic Gary Naysmith declaring it, "The finest piece of television I've seen all year."

On February 3, 2006, Chappelle made his first television interview since production ceased on Season 3, on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He stated that burnout, losing his creative control, and a work environment that was uncomfortable, were some of the reasons why he left the show. He also stated that he would be open to producing the remainder of Season 3 (and perhaps a Season 4) only if his demands were met, one of which was to ensure that half of the proceeds of future Chappelle's Show DVD sales would go to charity. Chappelle claimed that if Comedy Central aired the unaired episodes, the show would be finished. After that announcement, Comedy Central stopped advertising the release of the third season for a period of time.

The "Lost Episodes"

In April, the network wrapped up production of the third season, taping the live studio audience segments for three episodes. In place of Chappelle, the last episodes were co-hosted by regular cast members Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings. Advertised as the "lost episodes", they began airing on July 9, 2006. The third and final episode aired on July 23, 2006. The DVD collection of the lost episodes was released on July 25, 2006, although the controversial Racial Pixies sketch appeared heavily censored from its original debut. The banjo player had been edited out, some dialogue was removed, and various cuts were re-edited in that particular scene. This skit allegedly contributed to Chappelle's departure from the show, although it is unclear specifically as to why the skit was edited.

When asked if he felt guilty about carrying on with the lost episodes without Chappelle, Donnell Rawlings replied:

A number of sketches on the DVD were previously unaired.

DVD releases

The DVD sets for Seasons 1 and 2 of Chappelle's Show have sold extremely well since their release. As of 2005, the first season DVD was the best-selling TV series set of all time, beating out other popular shows such as The Simpsons (the first season of which held the record beforehand), American Dad!, Family Guy, Friends, and Seinfeld.

The episode "Music Jump-Off" which featured Chappelle visiting his old high school, The Duke Ellington School of the Arts, intercut with previously unaired skits and musical performances did not make either DVD set.

On October 11, 2005, the first half of the first season was released on UMD.

On May 23, 2006, the first uncensored season was made available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store, and on June 20, the second uncensored season was also made available on iTunes.

On February 26, 2007, both of the uncensored seasons were published by Comedy Central as BitTorrent downloads on BitTorrent.com.

On June 5, 2007, Comedy Central released a compilation DVD titled The Best Of Chappelle's Show which highlights 25 of the most popular sketches in all seasons.

On November 20, 2007, Comedy Central released a boxset with Season One, Season Two, and "The Lost Episodes" titled Chappelle's Show - The Series Collection.

All box sets were released by Paramount Home Entertainment (under the Comedy Central banner).

Season releases

DVD Name Release Date Ep # Additional Information
Season 1 Uncensored February 24, 2004 12 This 2 disc box set includes 12 episodes from Season 1. Bonus features include Deleted scene/Gag reel, 20 Minute Featurette Ask A Black Dude with Paul Mooney, Audio commentary on 5 Episodes and on the Deleted scenes/Gag reel.
Season 2 Uncensored May 24, 2005 13 This 3 disc box set includes 13 episodes from Season 2. Bonus features include New Stand Up Material From Chappelle, Uncut Rick James interview, Gag reel and Deleted scenes.


Special releases

DVD Name Release Date Ep # Additional Information
The Lost Episodes Uncensored July 25, 2006 3 This single disc boxset includes the 3 episodes from the unfinished third season. Bonus features include unaired sketches, Fabulous Making of Chappelle's Show Documentary, Audio commentary by Charlie Murphy, Donnell Rawlings and Neal Brennan, Blooper reel and Deleted scenes.
The Best of Chappelle's Show Uncensored June 5, 2007 Compilation This compilation highlights 25 of the most popular sketches in all seasons in an uncensored format.
The Series Collection November 20, 2007 [56658] 28 All episodes from Season One, Season Two, and "The Lost Episodes".


Cultural references

In Mark Ronson's single, "Valerie", featuring Amy Winehouse, Winehouse says at the beginning of the track "I'm sorry Charlie Murphy, I was having too much fun", a reference to the Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories skit in Season 2.

In Lupe Fiasco's single "Dumb It Down" featured on his album Lupe Fiasco's The Cool he references a skit parodying Making the Band with the line, "Spit hot fire like Dylan on Chappelle's skit."

In the Gym Class Heroes song "Don't Tell Me It's Over" on their CD The Quilt, Travis says toward the middle of the song "Tell them Travis smokes more crack than Tyrone Biggums does," a reference to the popular character on Chappelle's show.

Media

References

  1. The hilariously dangerous world of Dave Chappelle
  2. Paul Mooney on Pryor, Chappelle and the state of black America | HeraldTribune.com | Sarasota Florida | Southwest Florida's Information Leader
  3. EW's Great Performances of 2004 | Chappelle's Show | Television News | TV | Entertainment Weekly
  4. Candidate blames theft on ‘Chappelle’ skit - TV comedy - MSNBC.com
  5. Rick James Runs For City Council, Pays Price - News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News
  6. Dave Chappelle: The Reason Grandmas Know Who Lil Jon Is - News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News
  7. USATODAY.com - Chappelle: Laughing all the way to the bank
  8. CBC.ca Arts - Chappelle open to Comedy Central return
  9. Variety.com - 'Chappelle' yuks yanked for now
  10. [1]
  11. Chappelle's Show DVD news: S1 DVD Passes The Simpsons As #1 All-Time TV-DVD; Celebrates by Announcing Season 2! | TVShowsOnDVD.com


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