LIVE BLOGGING: Dave Chappelle on “Oprah”

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It’s 4 o’clock, and I can feel the energy. Why would he leave $50 million behind? Will he go back to his show! Oprah setting up the story: Did we mention $50 million? They had to bleep Rick James’ catch phrase, and did I mention $50? Was he crazy? On drugs? I can’t wait to find out. Oh, and did I mention $50 million? 4:02 Dave walks on, looking fit and happy in blue jeans and blue shirt. Oprah: “Why did you walk away from $50 million?” Great question. He says that he had to adjust to the atmosphere. Compares himself to Mariah Carey and Martin Lawrence. Good move! Oprah: “Would you say you lost your mind, sort of?” No, it’s just stress because the money got big for everyone. He admits that he is to blame. Oprah: “Tipping point?” Dave: After first season, he settled for less than he wanted. After second season, the DVDs blew up, and it’s a whole new revenue stream. The network doesn’t know what’s funny. Oprah thought his fantasy phone call about his getting her pregnant was funny. It is funny! I know because I’m watching the clip right now. Everyone agrees that it was a lot of work. Oprah: Drugs? Lost your mind? Dave: Incredibly stressed out. Vitamin-love deficient. Thought the sketches were funny but socially irresponsible. “I was overwelmed.”

4:16 We’re back. Did I mention $50 million? He says one irresponsible sketch featured a black-face performer, and he was worried when he got a laugh that made him uncomfortable. He didn’t want black people to be disappointed in him. Oprah talks about a segment she did with KKK and skinheads. “I was part of the problem.” “I was giving these people a voice.” Dave: Nobody watches a comedian to see how socially responsible he is. Word came out that he had writer’s block, and he thought someone was trying to put him in a compromising position. Ugly negotiations took their toll. I got ahead of scheduled then “bounced.” People tried to get him to take psychotic medication. They walled him up in his office? He didn’t tell his wife and kids that he was going to Africa (he told his brother) because the situation warranted it. But it wasn’t crazy. Didn’t want to tell her until after he was gone. A mistake, but not a “crazy” mistake. Africa was a place where he could reflect. Felt guilty about being asleep at the wheel. Show business is hostile and challenging. They’re holding hands! Oprah: If you don’t know who you are, you end up confused, thwarted and everyone is pulling on you. Did I mention $50 million? He loves being famous. It wasn’t the fame that drove him away. It was people trying to get into your pockets and mind. Oprah is giving him the Spiderman talk: with great power comes great responsibility. Did I mention $50 million?

Post Three 4:29 Will you come back? I’ll come to that. His partner told him he was well, which pissed Dave off. Oprah says “you really weren’t well.” Dave says that he hasn’t heard from his partner. Talked once to his partner and he had to call him. I needed vitamin love. Mad his partner said that he was “spinning out of control.” Oprah: Were you paranoid? Dave: what is a black man without his paranoia? Who goes to Africa for medical attention?

Post Four 4:38 First two weeks back, he was like Bigfoot. Realizes that he was “the dude right now.” Felt like a prostitute. Had to put on a mask to deal with the suits. Felt like “they” got me. “I’m a conspiracy theorist to a degree.” Talks about the “black man in a dress” theory of show business. “I’m funnier than a dress.” Ooh, the obligatory “Brokeback Mountain” joke. His leaving his show was “taking a stand.” Tired of “tit for tat” games. I didn’t disrespect anybody. Post Five 4:44 I’m like a pendulum. Not going back/$50 million/not going back/$50 million. This is what I want to do: I want to make the show again as long as I can make the proper work environment. Did I mention $50 million? He wants to give away the money. He is asking something from the audience. He wants to unload the money back to the people who supported me. People who suffered in Katrina. Oprah warns him not to say you’re giving money away on network TV. (I’m thinking the cat juggling scene from “The Jerk.”) He says if the money goes to charity, it won’t matter if he says something socially irresponsible.

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4:49 Talking about “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.” Is this appearance just to promote the movie? He tells us if everything is exactly how he wants, he will be more than willing to “finish what we started.” “I’m not mad at anybody.” Everyone is welcome back, except for the guy who laughed wrong. All in all, an interesting interview. Oprah coddled him a bit, but we all know how tough she can be if she thinks it’s appropriate, so I’ll give her a pass on this one. And after all, he just walked out on a TV show. It’s not like he deserves the “Hardball” treatment.

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