Chappelle’s Spell

February 14, 2012

Watching “Key and Peele,” Comedy Central’s latest attempt to replicate the success of “Chappelle’s Show,” I couldn’t help but think about how long it’s been since Dave Chappelle was on television.

Though it ran for only two full seasons, from 2003 to 2004, “Chappelle’s Show” is considered a landmark in sketch comedy. I’m such a fan of the series that I still quote sketches on an almost daily basis.

“Chappelle’s Show” ended famously when Chappelle, having just signed a $50 million deal with Comedy Central, buckled under the pressure of his increasing popularity. The show’s impact is felt in comedy clubs across the nation, as series regulars continue to lean on the show’s success. (See: co-creator Neal Brennan, in Arlington this weekend.)

Other than occasional gigs in California, the world hasn’t heard much from Chappelle since he appeared on “Inside the Actors Studio” in 2008. Chris Rock says he’s trying to recruit Chappelle for a “Watch the Throne”-style tour, in which the two legendary comics would team up to play arenas. It’s a great idea, and at this point, Chappelle’s been gone so long that I’ll take his comeback in any form.

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Christopher Porter | February 14, 2012