Dave Chappelle gave “his first in-depth interview in nearly a decade” to GQ this month, and in it he addresses his abrupt “Chappelle's Show” departure, TV binge-watching habits, impressive selfie collection and whatever the hell is going on with D'Angelo's answering machine, among other topics. Check out our full roundup below.
1. Despite all but turning his back on show business for almost ten years, he still clearly enjoys entertaining people.
In addition to playing ten sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall over the summer, GQ interviewer Mark Anthony Green notes that the comedian is driven to put on a show even outside a performance context: “He's also toting around a small, very loud portable speaker that is connected to his phone. And once in a while he'll just press play for a few seconds. The sudden blaring of A Tribe Called Quest makes the guests at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons-who are very Beverly Hills Four Seasons-y-instantly turn their heads to find Dave Chappelle's famous shit-eating grin.”
2. D'Angelo's answering machine message is pretty much what you'd expect it to be.
“I haven't talked to him personally in a while, but the last time I called him, he had a long outgoing message on his machine. It was like a Malcolm X speech. And the last part was so intense. He was like, 'The price of freedom is death!' Beeeep! I didn't even leave that dude a message. I just hung up the phone. Like, just listening to D'Angelo's answering machine puts you on the no-fly list, it's so militant.”
3. He wants to guest star on as many T.V. shows as possible.
“For one year, I want to do this thing where I guest-star on as many television shows as I possibly can. I love television. …I'd be a zombie in 'The Walking Dead.' A corpse on 'CSI.' I'd be the first black guy to fuck Olivia Pope on 'Scandal'….”
4. He binge-watched “Breaking Bad” just like the rest of us.
“I started being the new television viewer, where I come in late to a series and just binge-watch it online. And I love it, because sometimes the anticipation, waiting from week to week, is too much. I binge-watched the first two seasons of 'The Walking Dead' that way. I probably didn't get into 'Breaking Bad' until, like, the third season. I watched 'The Wire' retroactively, too.”
5. He's pretty sure he bought weed from professed former marijuana-peddler Idris Elba at some point.
“Oh, okay. So he used to work at [New York comedy club] Carolines. During that era of my life, there's a high possibility that I bought reefer from Idris.”
6. His mom is a major Busta Rhymes fan.
“Busta Rhymes was onstage [at one of my Radio City shows]. He was like, 'You know, I've wanted to play here my whole life. I've never heard my music with an orchestra before.' My mother started crying. I got offstage, she goes, 'I really like that Busta Rhymes.' You know, she's 76. It was just funny to hear her say that.”
7. He has an impressive selfie collection.
I have a pretty dope selfie gallery. …Kanye, Kim, Jay and Beyoncé. Jessica Alba. There's a great picture from Radio City of me, Chris Rock, and Aziz. Selfies are my shit. I love taking selfies…. Rob Ford.”
8. Yes, that Rob Ford.
“Seriously, you can Google it. I was in Toronto for a few shows, and they told me I couldn't smoke onstage. And I was like, 'Well, can't you just waive the rule tonight?' And they're like, 'It's a citywide ordinance.' So I got up the next morning and went to the mayor's office. This is before all that shit about him came out.
“I was like, 'Is the mayor in? Could you tell him Dave Chappelle is here to see him?' He was in a meeting. I said, 'I'll wait for a few minutes.' …He walked in and was like, 'What can I do for you?' And I told him, 'These ordinances exist in the United States, but they're often waived in contexts of performance, because it's an integral part of what I do.' He replied, 'That's it?' 'That's it,' I said. Then he told me, 'I'm sorry, I can't help you. The laws of Toronto are the same for everybody. We appreciate you coming, we're glad you're here, but we can't change the law because it disagrees with you.' He really gave me this whole speech.”
9. No surprise here: he wasn't totally cut out for the fame game.
“Some people have great experiences in show business. We'll say, for lack of a better term, I had an allergic reaction to some of the things that I was going through.”
10. He wasn't 100% down with Beyonce singing Lauryn Hill's “Ex-Factor” in her “On the Run” special.
“Lauryn's in some kind of weird legal position. I don't even know if she's allowed to sing all of her catalog. It was beautiful the way Beyoncé sang the song, but it made me wince a little bit. It's like when I see someone steal a joke from me: I really would have liked to tell that one myself!”
11. Despite achieving mega-fame as a standalone performer, he describes himself as a “pack animal.”
“I didn't start coming into my own as a guy until I was 12 years old. I can actually remember the moment. I went to a party. I was scared to go to this party, but I ended up going anyway. And when I got there, it was like I could tell everyone was really happy I came. And then a kid explained to me, 'Man, it's not as much fun when you're not here.' And I was like, Oh, I didn't know that. I didn't realize that kids thought I was funny-that I had actual friends. Even at 14, when I started doing stand-up, I was always a pack animal. I'd like to be a lone wolf, but I'm just not.”
12. He doesn't think Donald Sterling should have lost the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Ultimately, I don't think he should have lost his team. I don't like the idea that someone could record a secret conversation and that a person could lose their assets from that, even though I think what he said was awful. When you think about the intimacy of a situation, like, can a man just chill with his mistress in peace?* I just don't like when things like that happen, because if they take shit away for things that people say that are objectionable, I may not have anything in a few years. Granted, I don't think I say shit like 'Stop bringing white people to my game.'”
13. He's since reconciled with “Chappelle's Show” co-creator Neal Brennan, who he had a falling out with after walking away from the series.
“We've always had a strange friendship, but I don't think it was ever as icy as people thought it was publicly. We just almost never talked about it. Like, 'Let's just not. We're just not gonna agree on certain shit, so let's just not.' It was a valuable friendship above and beyond whatever work we did together. He's an important part of my life. So I don't think that will ever really change.”
14. He's totally okay with Tyler Perry.
“I mean, I can certainly debate the artistic merits of his movies or the lack thereof, but to me that's almost an irrelevant conversation, because I'm more impressed with what he was able to achieve. And I think that if I were [Perry critic]Spike Lee, maybe I'd have certain issues. But I'm not mad at Tyler Perry. I'm happy there was a Spike; I'm happy there was a Tyler. I'm not gonna say, 'Oh, I love Tyler Perry movies.' But that's kind of not the point. There are people who do love those movies, so why shouldn't somebody be making shit for them? Spike's not gonna make that movie for them.”
15. He describes his now-infamous heckler-plagued standup shows in Hartford and Florida as “frustrating.”
“It's not that they're not listening, but it's like I'm trying to say this thing to them and they can't hear me. Like, there were times when I was famous for things that became cumbersome. 'Half Baked' was like that, where I had grown personally, and when I would go onstage, people would scream out shit from that movie. Or like, 'I'm Rick James, bitch!' And I'd just be like, 'Listen to what I'm saying, listen to what I'm saying.' It was frustrating-like I was being victimized by my work. I think it's a Miles Davis quote where he says you spend the early part of your career trying to chase your influences, and the second half trying to get away from 'em.”
16. He never, ever moved to Africa. Ever.
“Here's one funny thing: People are always like, 'I heard you moved to Africa.' And in reality I was only there for about two weeks. I was on 'vacation.' I don't want to be too specific, but it wasn't even like I necessarily left. I wasn't like, 'I'm leaving and I'm never coming back.' It wasn't necessarily that kind of thing. But then there was a sequence of events…and ten years later, here we are.”
You can read the full interview over at GQ.