Dave Chappelle Lands On The Cover Of GQ's Men Of The Year Issue, Talks D'Angelo, Radio City, Buying Weed From Idris Elba + More
Dave Chappelle has had a year for the books. After selling out an epic and unprecedented 11-show run at New York’s Radio City Music Hall with some of the titans of the Okayplayer realm, the great king of comedy has taken his throne as one of GQ’s Men Of The Year, prominently featured on its cover this month. While last years MOTY honors might have been seen as a consolation prize of sorts for Kendrick Lamar (who had just been robbed by the Grammy’s committee) after flooding Radio City with era-defining comedic and musical genius, could there really be a more worthy a man of the moment for 2014?
GQ sat down with the legendary and irreverent one to discuss where he’d been all these years. They delved into what his natural state was, whether he thought D’Angelo‘s long-awaited Voodoo follow-up would ever hit shelves (likening himself to the r&b king in so many ways it’s scary) what motivated him to finally step out on the Radio City stage with all of his nearest and dearest musical buddies, running into a young Idris Elba (who was selling weed and working at Caroline’s at the time) identifying with Kanye‘s paparazzi troubles, wincing at seeing Beyonce cover Lauryn Hill‘s “Ex-Factor” when she can’t perform the song herself and so much more.
He even tells a tale about taking a selfie with crack-smoking Toronto mayer Rob Ford and dismisses any rumor mill fodder that he and Chappelle Show co-creator Neal Brennan were still at odds. All is well between the two minds that changed television forever and all is indeed well in the OKP realm when the comedic pillar takes his rightful place as a Man Of The Year. Cue Schoolboy’s anthem up and read through some of the more compelling clips from the interview below, just be sure to head over to GQ for the full scoop. Long live the great unicorn of comedy.
On the prospect of seeing another D’Angelo album:
“I’d like to think so. I haven’t talked to him personally in a while, but the last time I called him, he had a long outgoing message on his machine. It was like a Malcolm X speech. And the last part was so intense. He was like, “The price of freedom is death!” Beeeep! I didn’t even leave that dude a message. I just hung up the phone. Like, just listening to D’Angelo’s answering machine puts you on the no-fly list, it’s so militant. When a guy goes away like that, they might not come back for any number of reasons. Yesterday I was watching this YouTube video, and it’s William F. Buckley interviewing Muhammad Ali when Ali was banned from boxing. And one of the guys on the panel asks Ali, “Do you miss being the heavyweight champion of the world?” Ali is like, “What makes you think I’m not still the champ? I’m still the champ.” The guy replied, “Wait, no, no, no—that’s not what I mean. Do you miss boxing and blah blah blah?” And Ali is like, “Nah, I don’t miss boxing. As a matter of fact, I could call my sparring partner today. I could box all afternoon. I miss boxing for money.” In other words, in his mind, just because he wasn’t in the public eye, his title was no less legitimate. And his capabilities were no less legitimate. He looked at it like, “I’m just being separated from my livelihood, not what I love.” So I look at a guy like D’Angelo and I’m like, I’m sure he’s still making music. It’s just a matter of whether or not he wants to share that with us or not.”
What brought Dave to Radio City:
“That’s a good question. I have a show-business bucket list. There’s just certain things that every entertainer always dreamed of doing. When I was 19, I used to walk up Sixth Avenue and look at the marquee of Radio City. I’d see the lines outside. I’d be like, “Man, I just want to… Radio City!” So then, last year, when I started going on the road, it was just because I wanted to be on the road, at first. There’s something cathartic about touring—it feels good to just engage people that way. But then, as it was progressing, I was like, “Well, this should all go somewhere. Where am I going with this?” It just so happened the venue was open during the same time frame I was willing to play. The venue opened up for an astounding ten days. And I said, “Well, can we do all ten? You know, can I even do that business? I haven’t played New York in so long.” I didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity.”
On the very real possibility that he once bought weed from a young Idris Elba:
“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.”
On whether Radio City was the beginning or the end:
“Wow, that’s a really good question. Every ending is a beginning, and vice versa. So I guess it has the connotation of a sunset, because of the bucket-list analogy. There was something very definitive about it. In other words, for me to leave this show the way I did and then to sell, like, 60,000 tickets in New York City is a pretty big deal. And what was crazy was that if the venue were available longer, we could have kept going. So if it was the end of something, it would definitively be the end of any doubt that there was something real between me and the audience of people. ‘Cause you do doubt that, especially if you’re, you know, sequestered. I’ll say it like this: There’s still some shit on the list. I still got some shit on my bucket list.”