Dave Chappelle agrees that former Clippers owner Donald Sterling is as “awful” as the rest of us do after hearing his racist rant, but the comedian doesn’t think he should have lost the NBA team, as a result.
“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,” Chappelle told GQ in its annual Men of the Year issue, hitting newsstands nationwide on Nov. 25.
“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,” Chappelle continued. “Granted, I don’t think I say shit like, ‘Stop bringing white people to my game.'”
Chappelle rose to fame when his Comedy Central sketch program “Chappelle Show” hit the air in 2003, and then he left both the show and the public eye in 2006. Contrary to the rumors you may have heard, no, he never moved to Africa.
“People are always like, ‘I heard you moved to Africa.’ And in reality I was only there for about two weeks,” Chappelle said.
He was actually living what he describes as “a very good life,” full of both “money on time” — two things Chappelle doesn’t think many people in this world are fortunate enough to have. And he never turned his back on comedy.
“I’ve been out here doing comedy the whole time. But if certain people don’t see you, it’s not that you don’t exist, it’s just that they haven’t seen you,” Chappelle explained. “My kids are older now, so when I make decisions within the public eye, it affects more than just me. This year I’ve been way more generous with my time, as far as what I’m willing to share.”
Chappelle was willing to share a lot in this interview, so here are seven other interesting tidbits the former recluse had to say:
He has “a show-business bucket list.”
“For one year, I want to do this thing where I guest-star on as many television shows as I possibly can,” Chappelle said. “I’d be a zombie in ‘The Walking Dead.’ A corpse on ‘CSI.’ I’d be the first black guy to f–k Olivia Pope on ‘Scandal.'”
Kanye West gave a surprise performance during one of Chappelle’s shows at the Radio City Music Hall over the summer, but was pissed he wasn’t booked for the gig, instead.
“You know what he said after the fact, which I thought was funny? He said, ‘Why wasn’t I on the show in the first place? Like, why wasn’t I booked?’ So I don’t know what happened via the machinery. It also could be that Kanye’s like a girl that’s so pretty, nobody asks her to the dance,” Chappelle said. “I knew the day before that he was coming to see the show. Then, as I was walking onstage, right before I went on, Kanye was there and was like, ‘Yo, can I rock with y’all?’ And I thought he meant in general — like, ‘Yeah, man, always! We all cool for life! Blah blah blah.’ Talking all that shit. And then afterwards, when I say good night, I looked up. Kanye is actually onstage, standing there with a microphone in his hand. I was like, ‘This is nuts.'”
Chappelle does not agree with West that celebrity is comparable to the civil rights struggle.
“I think that he’s right in the sense that scrutiny in and of itself is oppressive. If someone sits there and stares at you while you eat, you won’t even eat the way you normally do, because it’ll make you so uncomfortable,” Chappelle said. “It’s something that dehumanizes a person, being on display like that. So is it like the civil rights movement? Not quite. The metrics are a little wrong to make that comparison. But it is a civil rights issue, in a sense. Because how is he supposed to live his life? It’s like someone putting their ear to your butt and being like, ‘Ew, you farted!’ Stop listening to my asshole!”
Chappelle thinks famous women are scrutinized more than famous men are.
“I also think that women in show business — and this is a sweeping generalization — they have a very different existence than men. Paparazzi chase ‘em a little harder. The critics, I think, are a little meaner,” Chappelle said. “I mean, look at Britney Spears, like, having a kid. She’s a new mom, and I don’t know if you have kids or not, but it’s a very sensitive time in a woman’s life when they’re a new mom. And the way the media was criticizing her mothering, I was like, That shit is ice-cold. ‘Cause even if you’re super-strong, that shit will fuck with you. Whereas if they were like, ‘Dave Chappelle‘s a bad father,’ I’d be like, ‘So what?'”
He doesn’t have any issues with Tyler Perry‘s portrayal of the black community.
“Well, I can’t see how my life is harder because Tyler Perry exists. You know? 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,” Chappelle said. “And I think that if I were 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.”
He’s got no more entertainment-related plans in the near future.
“I have all these weird fantasies. Going coast-to-coast on my motorcycle and having random barbecues all over America. No show, no nothing,” Chappelle said. “I just like seeing people, man. I just like meeting people. I like finding out new walks of life and new ideas. Sometimes I just like not doing shit and not being shit.”
But that doesn’t mean his career in show business is over.
“I’ll say it like this: There’s still some shit on the list. I still got some shit on my bucket list.”
Here’s Chappelle’s full GQ cover: