Rocking a few designer pieces from the likes of Tom Ford, Sean John, and even jewelry by David Yurman, comedian vet Dave Chappelle covers GQ‘s Men (And Women) of 2014 cover. Dave shares the covers with Chris Pratt, Ansel Elgort, Shailene Woodley, Steve Carell, and Michael Sam. In the article, Dave speaks on Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Idris Elba, why he quit the business in the past, his trip to Africa, and much much more.
The common criticism about him is that a lot of his shows and films do more harm to the black community than good.
Who said that, Spike?
Well, yeah, Spike. And others.
Well, I can’t see how my life is harder because Tyler Perry exists. You know? I mean, I can certainly debate the artistic merits of his movies or the lack thereof, but to me that’s almost an irrelevant conversation, because I’m more impressed with what he was able to achieve. And I think that if I were Spike Lee, maybe I’d have certain issues. But I’m not mad at Tyler Perry. I’m happy there was a Spike; I’m happy there was a Tyler. I’m not gonna say, “Oh, I love Tyler Perry movies.” But that’s kind of not the point. There are people who do love those movies, so why shouldn’t somebody be making shit for them? Spike’s not gonna make that movie for them.
Why’d you quit?
It just wasn’t good. None of ’em were really good. And it took that experience, those experiences, to learn how to do television. I’m a slow learner. Early in my career, I was along for a ride. And then, later in my career, I was like, “You know, I should really drive. ‘Cause nobody has ever taken me to a place I actually want to go.”
You’ve answered the question “Why did you leave?” numerous times, but it seems like people are still getting things confused. What’s the biggest misconception about your departure from Chappelle’s Show?
Here’s one funny thing: People are always like, “I heard you moved to Africa.” And in reality I was only there for about two weeks. I was on “vacation.” I don’t want to be too specific, but it wasn’t even like I necessarily left. I wasn’t like, “I’m leaving and I’m never coming back.” It wasn’t necessarily that kind of thing. But then there was a sequence of events…and ten years later, here we are.
Idris Elba once said he used to sell weed at the New York comedy club Carolines. That can’t be true, right?
Oh, okay. So he used to work at Carolines. During that era of my life, there’s a high possibility that I bought reefer from Idris. Fast-forward to when I was doing Chappelle’s Show. Idris would come to the set sometimes. Not the set where we’d be filming sketches, but the set when we did the live portion of the show and we showed the audience sketches. It used to be a real hot ticket in New York. There’s a lot of women who used to work on the show…all very professional, with the single exception when Idris would come around. It doesn’t matter how big a star would be on the show, when he came around, women would just lose their goddamn minds.
Photographs by Ben Watts
Read more of the interview HERE.