15 Years Ago Chappelle’s Show Made Its Debut & Changed The Comedy Game (Video)
Just three weeks ago, Dave Chappelle helped fans ring in 2018 with two new stand-up comedy specials, Equanimity, and The Bird Revelation. These were the third and fourth 2017 Netflix specials for the superstar in a full-on return to the stage, screen, and the public eye.
This week (January 22) marks 15 years since there was another critical turning point in the Washington, D.C. native’s career. On this day in 2003, Chapelle’s Show made its TV debut, care of Comedy Central. For comedy, music (including dead prez theme music), and popular culture, the show grew to iconic status in just two full seasons. Characters were introduced that have since been added to the mainstream lexicon, celebrity personas were forever altered, and the show used cutting humor to promote awareness, discourse, and ask a flawed society to take itself a little less seriously.
When the show debuted that first Wednesday night, there was no musical guest. That part of the show would grow, for Hip-Hop Heads especially, to its own institution. However, for episode 1, in the spirit of SNL and In Living Color, Dave opened his premiere episode spoofing a then-popular car commercial by Mitsubishi. As the car-maker was prominently using Dirty Vegas’ “Days Go By,” dancing, and youth culture to market its coupes, Chappelle mocked the dancing and the music, kicking his passenger out of the car. He picks up another, more favorable passenger instead. The stage was set for a new Comedy mainstay on the block—and Dave did not avoid splashing what he disliked or thought was ridiculous.
From rip, Heads knew that this show was something different. As the ad spoof cut to Dave’s entrance, the crowd gives him a standing ovation. Time would prove that every bit of that applause was earned.
This week (January 28), Dave Chappelle competes with Kevin Hart and others in the “Best Comedy Album” category of the Grammy Awards.