In 2005, the famous funny man left his hit series, The Chappelle Show, turning down $50 million from Comedy Central, and then moving to Africa. Rumors of him going crazy following his decision made its rounds but in 2014, he admitted that he left the spotlight to spend more time with family. Now Chappelle is back to his roots, returning to the world of mainstream comedy.
Saturday, Chappelle attended the Art For Life benefit where he received an award for Russell Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Chappelle took to the stage to talk about how his return to the comedic stage has come at a time of significance.
The comedic star told Associated Press, “I think it is important to be out now, but what’s going on in the world isn’t why I initially came out.”
He talked about the relevancy of his return, even if it wasn’t initially planned.
“This is a very surprisingly emotionally charged time, so people like me, I think, are very relevant and necessary in sorting through all this information and emotional content,” he said in his speech. “And when we are at our best, hopefully we are doing a great service to many people.”
Chappelle is not only known for his acting skills and his great comedic repertoire, but for his acts of giving back. A proud giver to his high school, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Chappelle says the school saved his life.
In his speech, Chappelle also told those in attendance that all artists, in some aspect or another, have an obligation to be activists.
“The biggest enemy of an artist is apathy,” he said. “A kid gets killed by the police and I buy a T-shirt, and before I can wear that one, there’s another kid [killed] and I’m running out of closet space.”
Though it is mere chance that Chappelle is back at his comedic career in such controversial times, It doesn’t hurt that it will take his outspoken material to new places.