Dave Chappelle is about to launch his comeback — and what better place to get warmed up than the Late Show With David Letterman?
The mercurial comedian, who famously jumped ship on his wildly successful sketch comedy show at the height of its fame, discussed his exit with Letterman during an often funny, sometimes terse but always illuminating interview.
While Chappelle did not reveal the true reason he left — rumors have circulated for years that it was actually about the creative direction Comedy Central wanted the content to go — he did discuss what he did afterward and how his decision affected his life personally, professionally and financially.
"I don't talk about it," the comedian said. "Listen, here it is: Technically, I never quit. I'm seven years late for work."
He compared the split to a '50s-era divorce. "People didn't go to divorce court. They just look at their wife and were like, 'I'm going to go get a pack of cigarettes. I'll be right back.' They just leave with the clothes on their back and make a go of it."
"I look at it like this: I'm at a restaurant with my wife — it's a nice restaurant and we're eating dinner. I look across the room and see this guy eating dinner and I say, 'You see this guy across the room? He has $100 million, and we're eating the same entree.' OK, fine, I don't have $50 million or whatever it was. Let's say I have $10 million in the bank — the difference in lifestyle is miniscule. The only difference between having $10 million and $50 million is an astounding $40 million. Of course, I would like to have that money."
"I made a series of decisions," he said. "Look, Dave, it's very hard to go through something like this because no one has really done it before. So there's not too many people that don't think I'm crazy."
"I'll go home and make the kids some integrity sandwiches; it makes no sense at all," he said of his choices. "There's nothing anyone can say. It's just you do what you feel like you need to do. It's a very complicated answer because I felt a variety of ways over the last years. Whenever there's something I'd like to have that I could have afforded but I can't now, then I'm upset about it. But then when I see a guy who goes to a job that's time consuming, and he doesn't have free time to do things I get to do, then I feel good about it."
"Money gives me choices," Chappelle added, and quipped, "Sometimes I listen to a Jay Z record, and it starts making me feel bad about some of the choices I've made. This guy has had more fun on two songs than I've had over the last 10 years."
Want to see Chappelle perform live? If you're in the New York City, New York, area, you're in luck: He has a residency coming up at Radio City Music Hall, nightly from June 18 to June 26, 2014. Bring your own integrity sandwiches.
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