The Sketch that Drove Dave Chappelle Out.

Filed Under Sketch Comedy

Like it or not, the sketch Chappelle was concerned about - where a white crew member laughed while he performed in blackface as a black pixie - will be in one of the three “Lost Episodes” of Chappelle’s Show.

And it’s already on YouTube. Is it socially irresponsible? Judge for yourself.

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Posted by Mike on 07/13  at  03:28 PM

I don’t get this reasoning at all.  First, Chapelle says the white crew member was laughing “in such a way” that it made him uncomfortable.  How do you discern a bigoted laugh from a non-bigoted laugh? 

Second, he was telling JOKES written by a COMEDIAN for a SKETCH.  And the gall of bystanders to laugh!  Oh wait, it was a racist laugh.  You know the ones.

Todd Jackson
Posted by Todd Jackson on 07/13  at  05:56 PM

I’m not sure how you tell a bigotted laugh from another. I’m white. But I grew up in the South, so I know the intentions behind laughter aren’t always happy. People laugh at different things for different reasons and nobody is more aware of them than comedians.

To some being a comedian and getting a laugh is enough. To others, getting the right laugh is what they want. I often hear comedians telling audience that have laughed at one part of a joke that wasn’t what they meant to be funny. Just because something is a joke and it gets a laugh doesn’t mean that a comedian should be happy with it. Some will be, but some won’t. I respect both.

Was Chappelle oversensitive? Maybe. I wasn’t there. But I get why he feels that way.

Posted by Mike on 07/13  at  08:36 PM

I can understand comedians seeking a specific type of laughter.  Not being one myself, I can’t argue the finer points of laughter types.

The slippery slope is how to accurately infer the source and motivition of that laughter.  If the laughter comes during a non-funny part of the joke, can the comedian interpret that as being directly related to that specific moment, or is it simply residual/delayed laughter from the previous punchline?  I know I often continue to laugh at great jokes after the rest of the audience has stopped, or it may take me a few moments to fully appreciate it. 

That sketch video was 100% racially-charged (and overall pretty funny).  But I do not understand—and this just could be my deficiency—how ANY observable reaction could be categorized into racist and non-racist with any certainty. 

If Chappelle is justifying his departure, in part, because of how he intepreted a crew member’s laugh, then that seems like a weak argument.  Maybe he harbored suspicions that this crew member was racist, and therefore his type of laughter fit in with Chappelle’s preconceived notion.  Maybe not. 

Point is, unless you are able to crawl into a listener’s mind, it’s dangerous and potentially self-destructive to assign motives to such a complex social response as laughter, particularly if you are basing decisions on them.  And, perhaps, it’s naturally impossible for a comedian to avoid trying to assign them.

Posted by James on 07/14  at  02:41 AM

Pryor told him personally that he was “carrying his torch.”
For a black comic, who’s been doing it in D.C. clubs since he’s 15, who’s biggest “star-turn” to date was as a stereotypical “Comic View”-type comic in an Eddie Murphy family comedy, that torch-passing must mean the fucking world. I can’t imagine what he was going through in his head; and I don’t think anyone else can.
The disturbing thing was how he was labeled as crazy for simply turning down huge money to not put out a product he wasn’t satisfied with. I saw Stanhope talk about this as it was happening and he made a valid point about how sick it is as a society that not taking the money equals he’s gone bat-shit crazy. At least Chappelle has integrity. Watching those guys he made famous host “his” show is pretty damn uncomfortable.

Posted by The Assimilated Negro on 07/14  at  11:12 AM

Perhaps this sketch was the one that “got him thinking,” but it seems clear to me that it obviously has to be a cumulative effect here.  The sketch is racially charged, and maybe the blackface adds a special pressure point, but it’s not really anymore so than any of his other bits.  I’m sure it’s just circumstance and time that made someone laughing at this sketch on set, versus say “The Niggar Family” sketch make him feel weird.

Posted by Jack on 07/15  at  06:32 PM

I think that ultimately what Dave Chapelle is facing is the same dilema any comedian who is not a heterosexual single white male faces.  They’re outside of the norm, and ultimately even the most well thought out joke in any “ethnic” group will get twisted into a negative race statement by idiots. Eddie Murphy dealt with similar stuff when he did Buckwheat on SNL back in the day.

And while I think artists hold a responsiblity towards their audience, once that stuff is out there it’s simply out there.  Stupid people will never understand the intelligence behind it.  Smart people will never need to have their “hand held” to explain the premise.

And in many ways I think this whole sketch is just a “straw on the camel’s back” thing. The whole “I’m Rick James, bitch…” and “I’m rich bitch…” stuff that was taken way out of context is the real precursor.

Comedy Cenral can be seen as taking advantage of the whole situation.  But what else is new?  They are a network. They paid for a product.  And they are trying to make lemonade out of lemons.  And when all is said and done these “Lost Episodes” reflect Comedy Central’s desperation more than anything else. Dave Chapelle comes out clean in the end because he said his peace and did something very selfless by pulling the plug on the whole show.

I only really feel bad for Charlie Murphy and the other cast members who are noticably awkward introducing and doing the “in between” stuff.  They are clearly uncomfortable not because of the content of the material as much as they seem uncomfortable attempting to fill Chapelle’s shoes.

Posted by Rocko on 07/24  at  12:32 AM

It’s interesting to me, having just seen the sketch, that the parts where he plays up white, asian, and latino stereotypes never ever came up once anywhere ever.

I’m unoffended and I’m a big fan of Chappelle, but I find that interesting.

Posted by Bobby Magill on 08/13  at  02:44 PM

1. To the idiot who posted they didn’t see the parts where Dave played up the white, asain and latino stereotypes in the controversial sketch. Just because your to stupid to recognize the stereotypes and how they were played up doesn’t give you the right to insult him. If you were a fan of not just the show but of Dave Chappelle the stand-up comedian as well you would know just how smart the guy is not just comedy wise but about the social environment that surrounds us which he uses very well on the stage and on his show.

2. To anyone who might feel bad for the other cast members of Chappelle Show don’t. Right now they maybe out of a job but this is exactly the kind of show that really boost a persons career. It is certain to do for the Chappelle Show’s cast what SNL did for Chris Rock, Phil Hart, Eddie Murphy and a number of other stars.

3. To the idiots who don’t understand why he left to Africa because of one white guy laughing at a sketch about a black pixie. It was because of the way he was laughing almost over laughing, laughing to hard at the racially charged sketch. It wasn’t really about racisim exactly. It’s hard to put into words the situation and circumstances. If you watch Dave talk about it on Inside the Actors Studio you might understand better. After that if you still can’t understand the felling behind Dave’s decision then you never will understand and need to shut up and leave it alone.

4. To whoever made the comment about Comedy Central being a network and why they released the third season episodes of Chappelle Show shut up. Their desperation was reflected by the creation of Mind of Mencia. Carlos Mencia is funny as hell and deserves all the respect he gets for his show but it was created by Comedy Central to pick up the slack that Dave’s absence left behind. Releasing the Lost episodes was just a way to make more money off Dave’s name and ruins almost any chance that he might have come back to do more episodes. By just brushing it off as nothing but buisness doesn’t help things either.

Posted by White boy on 09/13  at  09:55 AM

I think the skit is funny as hell no matter what color you are.  I see black people laugh when whites are made fun of by black comedians by stereotyping their voices, actions, and mannerisims. To say that someone laughed “the wrong way” is just getting too overly sensitive about the whole race thing. We all have our little quirks, and it is great that a lot of us can poke fun at ourselves.  But when you do poke fun at yourself, you cannot take offense that someone laughs along with you.  I don’t believe that anyone thinks that blacks are anything like the pixie that he played in the skit.

Posted by ICON on 09/17  at  12:02 PM

Bobby Mcgill Acts like he knows Chappelle. Shut aaaaappp! You don’t know this man, he’s a celebrities. You act like you talked with him one on one…Jebus.

Posted by nathan on 11/10  at  01:06 PM

Dave had to approve of everything that was aired.  If he felt a skit was irresponsible, he should have axed it and evalutated what image he wanted to project.  He could have made something he began seeing as a negative into a positive.  Instead, his actions ultimately served to drive whites, blacks, and people of all races apart.  Black people lost a show whose host they could deeply identify with.  White people, the ones who laughed for the right reasons at least, were made to feel as though they are to blame for Dave’s departure.  That’s simply not fair to anyone who was a member of the collective Chappelle Show audience. 

This show had the potential to be monumental in helping whites and blacks learn to trust each other, make fun of each other, and finally make everyone realize the proper way to poke fun, but not denegrade.  But so much for all of that.

Posted by Hal on 05/09  at  02:13 AM

The skit, like Chappelle is uniquely genius…what Dave has tapped into with such brilliance.

Blackface, although it heralds a patronizing past that has long gone, is firmly cherished internationally as classic and rarely seen performing art.  I’m white and from the west indies and I consider myself quite priviliged to see in 2007, Dave Chappelle as a cussing minstrel!

Most of us get it..a few won’ big deal…

Posted by idk on 04/10  at  06:00 PM

well there is a moralistic and an amoralistic view of jokes.. basically meaning some people will find them funny for certain reasons and some people will find them, lets say in this case, disrespectful… it’s only a joke people..this is how comedians make money. if every comedian stayed on the safe side of joke making, then there wouldn’t be as much comedy…. im pretty sure you white people joked about “niggers” and black people about “crackers”...GET OVER IT

Posted by Greg keller on 05/18  at  05:44 PM

i think a joke is a joke and people look to find reasons for sparks. im white, i grew up in a black community. never ever was it once about race more than dominance. race is a byproduct. leave comedy at comedy and if one mans laughter drives a man to africa and leave everything he worked for, shame on him. stay there then.

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