Chappelle's Show

Chappelle's Show
Created by Dave Chappelle
Neal Brennan
Starring Dave Chappelle
Charlie Murphy
Donnell Rawlings
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 28 (list of episodes)
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Comedy Partners
Pilot Boy Productions
Marobu Productions
Distributor MGM Television (syndication)
Paramount Home Media Distribution (home video)
Original network Comedy Central
Original release January 22, 2003 (2003-01-22) – July 23, 2006 (2006-07-23)
External links

Chappelle's Show is an American sketch comedy television series created by comedians Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan, with Chappelle hosting the show as well as starring in the majority of its sketches. Chappelle, Brennan and Michele Armour were the show's executive producers. The series premiered on January 22, 2003, on the American cable television network Comedy Central. The show ran for two complete seasons and a third, truncated season (dubbed "The Lost Episodes").

After numerous delays, production of the third season of the show was abruptly ended when Chappelle left the show. Three episodes were compiled from the completed work and these episodes aired from July 9 to July 23, 2006. Re-runs have frequently aired on Comedy Central and around the world, with episodes airing on MTV in Germany, Comedy Central in Brazil, The Comedy Network & MuchMusic in Canada, The Comedy Channel and 7mate in Australia, and FX in the United Kingdom.

Chappelle's Show was also shown on WGN America and was syndicated to various television stations across the U.S. including MyNetworkTV. TV Guide ranked it #31 on their list of "TV's Top 100 Shows" and also placed at #26 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list.[1]


The show opens with Chappelle being introduced over the instrumental from the song "Hip-Hop", from the album Let's Get Free by Dead Prez. Chappelle performs a short stand up in front of a live audience, which serves to introduce the upcoming sketch. The focus then shifts to a prerecorded sketch that appears on a screen that is to Chappelle's left (or right for the first episode). The show is notorious for its handling of the topic of sexuality and Chappelle's casual usage of racial epithets. Chappelle performed sketches that premiered intricate cultural topics, such as prostitution, the entertainment industry, gun violence, numerous drug references (particularly marijuana, alcohol, PCP, Crystal Meth and crack cocaine) and music, all performed in a comedic fashion with a touch of antagonism. The show ends with a musical performance by a hip hop or soul artist.[2]

Notable sketches

Rather than acting out sketches in front of a live studio audience, the sketches were prerecorded with the audience reaction usually used in lieu of a laugh track. According to Neal Brennan in Season 2 DVD commentary, the production team never edits in pre-recorded laughs, with the exception of the "Dude's Night Out" sketch due to the lack of reaction from the audience.[3]

Recurring characters

Frequent or notable guest stars

Many guest stars have appeared on the show, including RZA, GZA, Method Man (all three are from Wu-Tang Clan), Rick James, Damon Dash, Redman, Ice-T, Arsenio Hall, Wayne Brady (only guest to appear on stage), Common, Mos Def, Eddie Griffin, Susan Sarandon, Q-Tip, Snoop Dogg, Guillermo Díaz, Rashida Jones, Jamie Foxx, Jim Breuer, Carson Daly, Ron Jeremy, Star, Michael Rapaport and Fear Factor's Joe Rogan. Musical guests who appeared on the show include Mos Def, De La Soul, Ludacris, Robert Petkoff, Talib Kweli, Fat Joe, Wyclef Jean, Killer Mike, Big Boi (of OutKast), Anthony Hamilton, Kanye West, Common, DMX, Busta Rhymes, Slum Village, John Mayer, Questlove, Cee Lo, Vida Guerra, Erykah Badu and Lil Jon.


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 12 January 22, 2003 (2003-01-22) April 9, 2003 (2003-04-09)
2 13 January 21, 2004 (2004-01-21) April 14, 2004 (2004-04-14)
3 3 July 9, 2006 (2006-07-09) July 23, 2006 (2006-07-23)

Third season delays


During a June 2004 stand-up performance in Sacramento, California, Chappelle left the stage due to audience members interrupting the show by shouting "I'm Rick James, bitch!," which became a catchphrase from the popular "Rick James" sketch. After a few minutes, Chappelle returned and continued by saying "The show is ruining my life." He stated that he disliked working "20 hours a day" and that the popularity of the show was making it difficult for him to continue his stand-up career which was "the most important thing" to him. He also told the audience:

You know why my show is good? Because the network officials say you're not smart enough to get what I'm doing, and every day I fight for you. I tell them how smart you are. Turns out, I was wrong. You people are stupid.[13]


The third season of Chappelle's Show was scheduled to premiere in February 2005. This date was pushed back to May 31, 2005, when production fell behind schedule in December 2004 because, according to Comedy Central, Chappelle had fallen ill with the flu (Chappelle later told Oprah Winfrey that this was untrue and that stress had caused him to leave).[14] On May 4, 2005, just weeks before the anticipated premiere, Comedy Central announced that Chappelle's Show would not be ready by the announced date and that production had been suspended "until further notice." No reason for the delay or suspension was given and there was no response from Chappelle.[15] One week later it was reported (most notably by The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly) that Chappelle had previously flown to South Africa on April 28 to stay in an undisclosed psychiatric facility.

On May 14, Time magazine announced that one of their reporters, Christopher John Farley, had interviewed Chappelle in South Africa, and that no psychiatric treatments were occurring or necessary. Chappelle returned shortly thereafter and quelled rumors of psychiatric or substance abuse problems, and emphasized that his trip was a "spiritual retreat" intended to keep his sense of reality outside the bubble of intense pressure and fame and to keep his humor fresh.

On July 14, Comedy Central president Doug Herzog announced that Chappelle was welcome back any time, but that the comedian had said he was still not ready to return. Herzog put a positive spin on negotiations, but conceded that he did not expect Chappelle's Show to return in 2005. It was also reported in The New York Times that Chappelle explained to Herzog, over dinner, that his success was getting to him and that "he wanted to be wrong again sometimes, instead of always being right."

In August, with Herzog and Chappelle having reportedly not spoken since their June 3 meeting, TV Guide featured an interview with Charlie Murphy, in which he stated, "Chappelle's Show is over, man. Done... It took me a long time to be able to say those words, but I can say it pretty easy now because it’s the truth." Around the same time came confirmation from Comedy Central that co-creator Neal Brennan had left the show.

Nonetheless, on December 11, during Comedy Central's Last Laugh '05, a promo for the third season of the show was aired.


On January 24, 2006, the program premiered uncensored on the UK's FX, starting with the second season. The first episode featured the "Slow Motion" sketch, one of the most famous in the United Kingdom, popularized by the Internet. It was well received by critics, with outspoken TV critic Gary Naysmith declaring it, "The finest piece of television I've seen all year."

On February 3, 2006, Chappelle made his first television interview since production ceased on Season 3, on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He stated that burnout, losing his creative control, and a work environment that was uncomfortable, were some of the reasons why he left the show. He also stated that he would be open to producing the remainder of Season 3 (and perhaps a Season 4) only if his demands were met, one of which was to ensure that half of the proceeds of future Chappelle's Show DVD sales would go to charity. Chappelle claimed that if Comedy Central aired the unaired episodes, the show would be finished. After that announcement, Comedy Central stopped advertising the release of the third season for a period of time.

The "Lost Episodes"

In April, the network wrapped up production of the third season, taping the live studio audience segments for three episodes. In place of Chappelle, the last episodes were co-hosted by regular cast members Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings. Advertised as the "lost episodes", they began airing on July 9, 2006. The third and final episode aired on July 23, 2006. The DVD collection of the lost episodes was released on July 25, 2006.

When asked if he felt guilty about carrying on with the lost episodes without Chappelle, Donnell Rawlings replied:

I'm a loyal person, but I know that as a professional, I've got to keep my career going, and I felt it was an opportunity for me, for people [to] see what I do as funny ... without knowing what Dave Chappelle's agenda is, the reasons why he left, with no communication saying, ‘Hey guys, I feel this way. I would much rather you not be a part of this process.' Had I had a conversation with Dave like that then there's a possibility that I would reconsider me hosting it.[16]


DVD releases

The DVD sets for Seasons 1 and 2 of Chappelle's Show have sold extremely well since their release. As of 2005, the first season DVD was the best-selling TV series set of all time,[17] beating out other popular shows such as The Simpsons (the first season of which held the record beforehand), American Dad!, Family Guy, Friends and Seinfeld.

The episode "Music Jump-Off" which featured Chappelle visiting his old high school, The Duke Ellington School of the Arts, intercut with previously unaired sketches and musical performances did not make either DVD set.

On October 11, 2005, the first half of the first season was released on UMD.

On May 23, 2006, the first uncensored season was made available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store, and on June 20, the second uncensored season was also made available on iTunes.

On June 5, 2007, Comedy Central released a compilation DVD titled The Best Of Chappelle's Show which highlights 25 of the most popular sketches in all seasons.

On November 20, 2007, Comedy Central released a boxset with Season One, Season Two, and "The Lost Episodes" titled Chappelle's Show – The Series Collection.

All box sets were released by Paramount Home Entertainment (under the Comedy Central banner).

Season releases

DVD Name Release Date # of Eps Additional Information
Season 1 Uncensored February 24, 2004 12 This 2 disc box set includes 12 episodes from Season 1. Bonus features include Deleted scene/Gag reel, 20 Minute Featurette Ask A Black Dude with Paul Mooney, Audio commentary on 5 Episodes and on the Deleted scenes/Gag reel.
Season 2 Uncensored May 24, 2005 13 This 3 disc box set includes 13 episodes from Season 2. Bonus features include New Stand Up Material From Chappelle, Uncut Rick James interview, Gag reel and Deleted scenes.

Special releases

DVD Name Release Date # of Eps Additional Information
The Lost Episodes Uncensored July 25, 2006 3 This single disc box set includes the 3 episodes from the unfinished third season. Bonus features include unaired sketches, Fabulous Making of Chappelle's Show Documentary, Audio commentary by Charlie Murphy, Donnell Rawlings and Neal Brennan, Blooper reel and Deleted scenes.
The Best of Chappelle's Show Uncensored June 5, 2007 Compilation This compilation highlights 25 of the most popular sketches in all seasons in an uncensored format.
The Series Collection November 20, 2007 [18] 28 All episodes from Season One, Season Two, and "The Lost Episodes".


  1. "The New Classics: TV". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  2. Wisniewski, K.A. (2009). The Comedy of Dave Chappelle:Critical Essays. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 15. ISBN 9780786454273.
  3. Dave Chappelle (2003-01-22). Chappelle's Show (television production). New York City, NY: Comedy Partners. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
  4. "Dave Chappelle: The Reason Grandmas Know Who Lil Jon Is". MTV. 2004-01-06. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  5. Geier, Thom; Jensen, Jeff; Jordan, Tina; Lyons, Margaret; Markovitz, Adam; Nashawaty, Chris; Pastorek, Whitney; Rice, Lynette; Rottenberg, Josh; Schwartz, Missy; Slezak, Michael; Snierson, Dan; Stack, Tim; Stroup, Kate; Tucker, Ken; Vary, Adam B.; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Ward, Kate (December 11, 2009), "THE 100 Greatest MOVIES, TV SHOWS, ALBUMS, BOOKS, CHARACTERS, SCENES, EPISODES, SONGS, DRESSES, MUSIC VIDEOS, AND TRENDS THAT ENTERTAINED US OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84
  6. Snierson, Dan (2004-12-27). "EW's Great Performances of 2004: Dave Chappelle". Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  7. "Candidate blames theft on 'Chappelle' skit - today > entertainment - today > entertainment > tv -". MSNBC. 2005-04-13. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  8. "Rick James Has A Bitch Of A Time Running For City Council". MTV. 2005-04-13. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  9. K.A. Wisniewski (2 July 2009). The Comedy of Dave Chappelle: Critical Essays. McFarland. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7864-5427-3.
  10. "The hilariously dangerous world of Dave Chappelle". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 27, 2004.
  11. "Paul Mooney on Pryor, Chappelle and the state of black America". 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  12. Levin, Gary (August 3, 2004). "Chappelle: Laughing all the way to the bank". USA Today. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  13. Carnes, Jim (June 18, 2004). "Dave Chappelle lets rude crowd have it, sticks up for Cosby's comment.". Sacramento Bee.
  14. Archived October 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. Martin, Denise (May 4, 2005). " – 'Chappelle' yuks yanked for now". Variety.
  16. Dana Leahy (2006-07-11). "Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes". Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  17. "Chappelle's Show DVD news: S1 DVD Passes The Simpsons As #1 All-Time TV-DVD; Celebrates by Announcing Season 2!". Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  18. "Chappelle's Show DVD news: Announcement for Chappelle's Show - The Series Collection". 2007-07-08. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
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