Funnyman turns serious, and still draws a chuckle

Published 10:39 am Monday, August 7, 2017

I’m in the – pick one – majority/minority of folks who think comedian Dave Chappelle is a comic genius, and sometimes just a genius, period.

For those of you not familiar, Chappelle is the stand-up comedian and actor whose routines are propelled by four-letter words, laced with racial slurs and loaded with jokes involving genitalia. But if you can take that kind of comedy, it is uproariously funny.

Chappelle is also known for the riotously funny sketch comedy show on cable channel Comedy Central back in 2003-06 called ‘Chappelle’s Show’.

Among his funny bits were his take-off on playing against the late singer Prince in a pickup basketball game where the Purple One’s winning team wore frock coats and ruffled shirts (in the end, “Game, blouses” was the sketch punch-line). He also did a killer imitation of the late funk and soul singer Rick James, complete with wet-look Jeri curl hairstyle. Unfortunately, the best lines from that sketch I can’t repeat for you here because this is a family column (let’s just say the punchline goes something like, “I’m Rick James, <expletive>!”).

Chappelle also did a lot of comedy concerts, one of which I caught at UNC-Wilmington in 2004, even bumping into him in the elevator at his hotel after the show where I’m sure my compliment on his performance – along with my identity – was remembered for all of 15 seconds.

I also admire Chappelle for having the courage – or insanity – to walk away from a reported $3 million per season show at the height of its popularity because he said doing it anymore just didn’t feel right.

Since then, Chappelle had re-emerged in the public eye whenever and wherever he feels like it, limiting his exposure.

One of his appearances over this last year was on Saturday Night Live the weekend after the presidential election where he implored a somewhat cynical America to give the newly elected chief executive ‘a chance’.

“I’m wishing Donald Trump luck,�� he said in a monologue. “I’m going to give him a chance, and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he gives us one too.”

Well, I guess now Chappelle’s saying that time’s up.

This past week on ‘Late Show with Stephen Colbert’, Chappelle appeared now to be taking it all back; some of it anyway.

“It’s not like I wanted to give him a chance that night,” Chappelle clarified. “[But] I feel like a lot of white Americans finally got to see what an election night looks like for many black Americans every cycle.”

Chappelle believes Americans will not only weather Trump’s presidency, he’s suggesting that his policies will create better voters.

“In the last six months, I think we’re all getting an education about the presidency,” he added. “I don’t know that I’ve ever heard in the popular discourse people discussing ethics this much. And I didn’t even realize how ethics were necessarily supposed to work at that level of government, and he’s putting all this stuff on the forefront.”

He finished by saying the president’s actions are going to produce a more informed and better voter.

“He’s a polarizing dude,” Chappelle said.

Whether he waffled since November or not, Chappelle’s put his weight behind making a stand, like when he addressed a local Ohio town-hall meeting back in his home town last spring.

“In this Trump era, there’s an opportunity to show everybody that local politics reigns supreme. We can make our corner of the world outstanding.”

It’s refreshing to see a funny-man turn serious and still make us chuckle.


Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7211.