Dave Chappelle Has A Serious Conversation About Living A Happy Life (Video)
Dave Chappelle recently took over HOT 97’s Ebro In The Morning show. For nearly one hour, the comedy superstar fielded questions from the show staff in what turned into an incredibly revealing conversation.
During the course of the discussion, Dave announced two additional dates to August’s Radio City Music Hall residency. The “block party” style concerts featuring comedy and music will now include August 12 and 22 dates. With those, SNL‘s Michael Che, Leslie Jones and Colin Jost co-headline at the first, while Solange will join the second. Following the June announcement, Dave and promoters have added a number of guests, including Ice Cube, Lil Jon, and John Mayer. While some dates are sold out, others have tickets available. He expects the event will break a new comedy record.
Much more interestingly, an unguarded Dave opened up about many topics. Peter Rosenberg, Ebro, and Laura Styles asked the veteran about his personal life. “People of affluence don’t age the same way [as others],” Dave admits, agreeing with Ebro after the 7:00 mark. Admitting that he’s far from a nutritionist, the star says, “But I live well…I have effectively minimized my stress. I exercise. All of these factors, I think will, contribute to my quality of life—maybe not the length of my life, but who knows, I may get hit by a bus, catch some kind of wild cold, Zika or something…I don’t know what’s going to happen. So I don’t worry about it. I just chill and do shows that I dream about. It’s like a fantasy: livin’ the dream.” Rosenberg reports that his Juan Epstein partner, Cipha Sounds, who tours with Dave, says the creative does exactly what he wants to do when he wants to do it. In response, Dave smiles, “It sure looks that way.” Chappelle then speaks about sitting ringside at the fights he enjoys, and the matches he enjoys. Dave touches on his love of boxing for several minutes. He incorporates humor and candor into the upcoming Mayweather vs. McGregor match.
Dave moves into Hip-Hop, and his fondness of JAY-Z’s 4:44 album, around the 15:00 mark. He discussed this last month during stops on other radio shows. Chappelle credits Jay for speaking clearly in a way that he can understand the lyrics and making incredible music at an age that once seemed implausible for MCs. Dave talks being a longtime Jay fan, and running into Hov at clubs. “He got his varsity jacket fairly early; he damn near went straight to the kid’s table.” He speaks about his Interview magazine conversation with Kendrick Lamar and reveals how open and calm K-Dot was. He adds that they were not together, but taped by phone.
At 21:00, Dave speaks about his birthday (August 24). He discusses his motorcycle trips. One year in the mid-2000s, while biking from Ohio, Dave rode into Austin, Texas. He recalls doing an impromptu comedy set (shortly after leaving Chappelle’s Show) that he estimates lasted four hours. “One of the birthdays I can remember, recently.” He recalls hanging with Common in Colorado. “The way I try to celebrate birthdays is I try to make a memory that I’ll treasure,” he says. Even before fame, the Washington, D.C. native says he adhered to this belief. At 16, he memorably reunited with his elementary school friends, before they got to see the teen comedian perform his act. “Comedy is what I like to be doing on my birthday…it’s not easy though. I sincerely make a point to manufacture quality memories ’cause it’s the only thing I believe they can’t take away from me.”
Dave then speaks about his Ohio parties at juke joints. The no-phone events feature The Band With No Name, which Dave reveals are just Stevie Wonder’s players. “There’s no cell phones, so your margin of error, socially, is a little wider. You know you’re not gonna get filmed,” he says. Yasiin Bey, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Chance The Rapper are among performers Dave lists, adding that he pays no artists.
At 36:00, Dave who grew up around Silver Springs, Maryland and the District of Columbia, greater explains his relationship with Ohio. During the 2000s, when the comedian shunned the spotlight, he spent much of his time on his farm near Yellow Springs, Ohio–outside of Dayton. “I was livin’ in Ohio when we was doing Chappelle’s Show,” he reveals. “When we’d finish [episodes], I’d go back to the farm. [I moved there] because my parents split up when I was a kid and my dad had lived out there. He got real sick in like ’98, so I would drive back and forth from New York. And there’s no good hotels where I live, so I just bought a house. Then, at a certain point, I just moved into the house. Then, when I quit the show, I moved back into the house. I was just chillin’. Because here’s the treadmill: I could live in New York; I can afford it. But I would have to work all the time. But in Ohio, I can do that for a long time and not work. As far as people out there know, I don’t work. They never see me work.” Rosenberg states that Dave’s home must be amazing yet “ridiculously affordable.” Dave repeats the phrase, “Yeah, ridiculously affordable. Now okay, my life does have its extravagances. I’m not gonna front. But the core of what my life is is very simple.” Dave adds that his spending including chartered private flights, boxing events, and “peacocking” in fashion and toys. “I’m wearing all status symbols,” he jokes in explaining terms, adding that he does it to get people to like him more. He says that his kids are not extravagant people, and not interested in sneakers or brands. “There’s very little social capital for that in my kids.” He says, “I live in the heart of Trump country. People are nice. They stop and talk to me, but they’re used to me,” he says of his Ohio neighbors. “I’m like a local team they root for. They’re proud of me, and they saw me when I was goin’ through it.” He says “hell yeah, we’re out there,” when Ebro asks if he has Black communities around him. “It’s like a Bernie Sanders island in the Trump Sea.”
At 42:00, Dave speaks about avoiding the Internet, unless his wife suggests he see something. “I try not to pay attention to it. Because you don’t want to be careful as a comedian,” he admits. He tells Laura that he is pleased with the response to his two specials earlier this year. However, he avoids Twitter and social media. He jokes that occasionally when drunk, he Googles himself. “I try to keep my business small enough that it can [stay] authentic enough.”
At 44:00, Rosenberg (an admitted past smoker) confronts Dave about his cigarettes. In the Netflix trailers, Dave is often seen with smoke in hand. The radio co-host asks the comedian if he fears the health risks. “Now we’re getting into a more philosophical conversation…,” says Dave as he puts two packs on the table. “Fear? No. I think if I’d quit smoking, it would improve the quality of my life, perhaps, in some ways—but not necessarily the length of my life. I’m a fatalist. I think everything is what it is.” He adds that quitting would allow him to breathe better and walk up a flight of stairs. Dave says he thrives on the social aspects of smoking, and the recreation. He tells a story about a cigarette marketing company handing him a free pack at 14 in D.C. Dave elaborates that he associates smoke with comedy and its clubs. While many of those clubs have banned smoking, Chappelle still gets away with lighting up due to his status. He makes several jokes about starting a lawsuit from his teen experience. “Like comedy, I didn’t realize I’d get so good at [smoking].”
Right before the 50:00 mark, Dave says that while Prince was an early fan, the two became especially close after Chappelle walked on Comedy Central.
In the closing moments, Dave suggests a desire, perhaps in August to do an impromptu free public show at Downtown Manhattan’s Washington Square Park. He refuses to confirm a date, but admits it’s an idea he tackles. Early in his career, he performed there as a street artist.
As Dave celebrates 30 years of telling jokes, his serious moments define so much about why he matters so much.