Dave Chappelle was at the height of his success seven years ago with The Chappelle Show, a true hit for Comedy Central that resonated with fans and became a quotable, instant classic. But when the network offered the comedian a $50 million deal to renew his contract, he decided to walk away instead, taking a sabbatical to South Africa with nary a word to fans. Now, he’s back with a new stand-up show, and he spoke to David Letterman recently about his true feelings regarding the loss of all that money.
“There’s not too many people that don’t think I’m crazy [for walking away from so much money]. I’m at a restaurant with my wife, it’s a nice restaurant, we’re eating dinner. I look across the room, I say, ‘You see this guy over here, across the room? He has $100 million.’ And we’re eating the same entree. So, OK, fine, I don’t have $50 million or whatever it was, but say I have $10 million in the bank. The difference in lifestyle is miniscule…money is the fuel for choices. Money gives me choices, so it’s not nothing, it’s something. But it’s not the end all, be all. There are other things in my life that I did not purchase with money that are very valuable,” Chappelle said.
Chappelle said he had no idea that his fans and the media were in a frenzy over his departure, noting that the news didn’t really reach him in South Africa. He later moved to Ohio, where he still lives a relatively quiet life with his family.
Chappelle did say that even though at the time it seemed like the right thing to do, he sometimes thinks about what he might have done with the money.
“Of course I would like to have that money. 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 11 years,” he said.
Chappelle recently added more shows to his Radio City Music Hall gig after the first ones sold out in mere minutes. He’ll be performing from June 18-26.
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