Dave Chappelle Sets The Record Straight On Why He’s Mad About Key & Peele (Video)
As tickets are now available to Dave Chappelle’s August New York City residency shows, the actor and comedian appears on Sway In The Morning. In a two-part video interview, Dave opens up about how Hip-Hop music and specific MCs have affected his life and business. Heather B also recalls Chappelle fiercely challenging her to a freestyle battle when she was running with M.O.P. and Gang Starr. Perhaps most significantly, Dave clarifies the shots he’s taken at Key & Peele. The target is not what it seems.
In part 1, just after the 20-minute mark, Sway asks Dave about his apparently disparaging comments aimed at Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s show. In October, he told an audience at Bryant Park, “You guys don’t know what I’ve been through, watching Key & Peele do my show for the last five f*ckin’ years.” A similar jab came on one of two subsequent Netflix specials.
“I did do that,” he admits. He then tells Sway that he’s yet to see them in-person. “No. But I’ll tell you this, and I’ve said this publicly: I’m not mad at [Key & Peele] at all. That was more a jab at the network because I know what I fought to do with Chappelle’s Show. I know how they resisted the formula that ultimately became the show. Then I watched them parcel it out to all kinds of different comedians. ‘We’ll try it with this one; we’ll try it with that one.’ They did everything but what I think could have been correct. They could’ve got me back. But it’s not a slight against them. Matter of fact, Jordan Peele’s [Get Out] movie is a f*cking masterpiece. Yo, I loved that movie. [To Donnell Rawlings] Donnell, you were my witness – I had a Get Out party. I did. We rented a movie theater. We got Get Out. We put a PA system and we heckled the movie like Mystery Science Theater 3000, and it was great. Everybody was sh*t-faced; it was real late at night. It was after a show, and it was really fun. It’s why I’d go to the movies, to see sh*t like that. I like the work that they do, and I respect the work they do, and I respect them.” Sway asks Chappelle if he’d be open to collaborating with the duo. “Sure,” he answers. “If the situation was right, I’d do all kinds of sh*t.”
In the Sway In The Morning studio, D.B. asks Dave if he draws comparison to younger comics not respecting forefathers, as has been the case with Hip-Hop. D.B. uses rappers like Kodak Black and others discrediting Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. to illustrate his question.
Dave replies, “Nah, I don’t care about that. You know why? Because comedy’s a weird genre. Deep down, I know that every comedian thinks that comedy is all about them. Every single one of ’em! For a comedian to stand in the back of the room and watch another comedian, it’s almost like watching somebody f*ck your girlfriend. And you’re like, ‘Yo; I f*ck her better. You’re not doing it right.’ It’s awful; you get jealous. You’ll hear people hate on [each other]. Kevin Hart is a wonderful person. There’s nothing wrong with him, but guys feed themselves this kind of gunpowder because comedians are insecure people a lot of times, socially-awkward people a lot of times, and a lot of these guys are f*ckin’ miserable dudes. And they need to believe that [they are the best]. Some of ’em vocalize it. Some of ’em don’t. But many of them feel that way.”
Other highlights from Part 1 include Dave calling Sway’s 2013 interview with Kanye West “one of the greatest moments of radio” (11:00). He details the hilarity of the slow-boiling buildup to the “How, Sway?” outburst from two of his friends.
Of his Netflix deal, Chappelle is brutally honest surrounding its benefits. I’ve been balling; I’ve been having a swell time,” he says. Later he adds, “The best thing about money is it’s given me a false sense of security. But a false sense of security is better than no security.”
Throughout both parts of the Sway In The Morning appearance Thursday, Dave bemoans smartphones for comedy and society. “Comedy is top genre because of how we engage the audience. It’s a very confrontational genre.” He later states that he feels more people are “curating” than actually “living,” all through the small screen.
There is a lot of discussion about the craft of comedy. Donnell Rawlings recalls his days as an emerging Washington, D.C. comic. One night, when he was paying dues with a late-night slot, MC/DJ Biz Markie made a surprise stand-up appearance. The Juice Crew member (who was once a featured recurring guest on In Living Color) killed, making Rawlings have one of the worst sets in memory.
At 19:00, on the subject of battling and competition, Heather B calls out Dave. She admits first meeting Dave following a Real World reunion taping. Years later, after she attended one Chappelle’s Show taping, the stand-up put her on the spot.
“We’re hanging out [at the hotel following the taping], having a good time. ‘Oh sh*t, Heather B – “All Glocks Down.” Let’s battle right now.’ I looked, and all of a sudden this heat – f*ck a dry-mouth – a heat came over my body. He was like, ‘Lock the doors, you’re not leaving until we freestyle on stage.’ I was just like [shakes head nervously]. He was like, ‘You sucka MC!’… you suck, Dave.” Chappelle shrugs and he responds with, “We have a good time, you know what I mean? We had fun, man. I miss doin’ the show sometimes. I don’t know that I could do it again. The hours… and then the context is so different now. There was no smart-phones then.”
In Part 2, Dave discusses the guests tied to his residency. In particular, he praised Arsenio Hall, who will appear one night. Chappelle highlights his FOX-era devotion to putting great Hip-Hop on television. He also credits him as the first Black comedian on mainstream TV with a show of that kind. “The fact that he’s gonna touch the stage with me and rock, I’m very excited about.” Of Yasiin Bey, he admits “[He was] very hard to secure, but I’m happy Mos [Def] is comin’ back.” It is slated to be one of the Black Star MC’s final concerts in a 20-plus-year career.
Right before 5:00, Sway asks Chappelle who some of his greatest MCs are, both now and forever. Dave responds, “I believe that if Biggie Smalls had lived a little bit longer, we would get an honorary English Lit degree. Some of the techniques that he employed in his music, I was very, very impressed by, [his narrative]. Lil Wayne, to me, is one of the most clever mothaf*ckas, ever. I do all those jokes about ‘p*ssy juice,’ but I f*ck with that dude! He’s just clever and fun to listen to.”
He continues, “There’s so many good guys. There’s Jay [Electronica]; I like him. Kendrick [Lamar] is killing it right now. Like, some of the sh*t he puts out sounds like pure, uncut adrenaline. There’s certain records from the ’90s [like] when [JAY-Z] was poppin’. I remember listening to JAY-Z before I’d go into meetings with white people to feel confident. ‘I’m focused, man!’ I’d go in there and murder [it]. Even though some of the subject matter was controversial or whatever, the sentiment of the music raised us from boyhood to a man. I’m very excited about Jay’s [4:44] droppin’. He’s 47 [and relevant]. He’s survived and he’s in the center of the winner’s circle…our whole generation was the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. That was a good moment for me.”
August residency also commemorates Chappelle’s 30th anniversary in stand-up.