Chappelle Theory: Conspiracy as Marketing?

Filed Under Sketch Comedy

Jason Bateman and Jeffery TamborThe Chappelle Theory website has gotten a fair amount of pass along on the Internet since Friday.  With its mentions of “Dark Crusaders” ( a cabal of (among others) Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Al Sharpton, and, of course, Oprah) pursuing the end of Chappelle’s sketch show because they see it as a form of minstrelsy. The silliest part of Chappelle Theory comes when the group broadcasts a threatening message to Dave’s TV and Dave’s TV only:

On Tuesday, while watching an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, Chappelle recalled being completely stunned when Winfrey turned to the camera in the middle of interviewing Tom Cruise and said “Dave Chappelle, you should be ashamed of yourself for airing that Niggars sketch on your show this week, I’m going to make sure you never work in Hollywood again.

It was obvious that this was either the work of a crackpot or someone who has comedy writing aspirations. But after being seeing the whois registrations for the URL at digg, which point to a webshop in Philly named Weblinc. I figured out the names of the heads, and found one of them - Jason Hill - had not only posted on it once, but twice, but also posted an original digg posting on Chappelle Theory that was removed. It was also blogged early on by another Weblinc employee, Anthony Bucci .

Now I’m certain that this is a viral marketing campaign for Chappelle’s Third Season. (According to my quick e-mail correspondence with Weblinc’s Jason Hill, he claims Comedy Central didn’t hire them.)  It’s impressive to see the effort put into to push the new season, although if I was one of the viral marketers, I’d be a little uneasy about adding Bill Cosby’s name into this. He’s been known to sue. See the House of Cosbys.

Still, nice work. Rising black comics, you may continue your “negative stereotypes” without fear of “Dark Crusaders.”

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Posted by Dan fiorella on 12/20  at  10:46 AM

Here’s a bit from Craig’s List posted 12/20/05:

WANT TO MAKE $5,000?

Reply to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Date: 2005-12-20, 2:10AM PST

We are looking to people to assist us in the writing/producing of a documentary with regards to what really happened to Dave Chappelle and his show (for clarification, go to If you can assist in any way, let us know ASAP. Once the documentary is made, all faces/voices will be completely covered, altered. Help expose the truth; we welcome your replies.
this is in or around LOS ANGELES

no—it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Compensation: $5,000

Todd Jackson
Posted by Todd Jackson on 12/20  at  11:27 AM

The link Dan’s referring to is here:

Oh, wait… I’m sorry I said this was viral marketing. I think I remember something about Oprah and Sharpton in the parking lot of the Standard, talking about Chappelle. Can I have $5,000 now?

Posted by pop occulture on 12/20  at  03:46 PM

I’m not saying that I believe the website to necessarily be the truth, but really the fact that people from Weblinc were the ones to post it to the web doesn’t - in itself - disprove anything, does it?

Todd Jackson
Posted by Todd Jackson on 12/20  at  04:43 PM

Agreed. But when they post the link on their own weblogs with notes like “Craziness” and “I have no idea if its legit” when they are the ones who built the page, it should raise some eyebrows. It’s viral marketing of some sort.

What the site claims is bullshit - some of it hilarious bullshit. But who’s doing the BS-ing (who knows, could be Chappelle) has yet to be revealed.

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