Chappelle's Show

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"Good muthafuckin' choice, muthafuckers!"

Everybody remembers that line and sometimes only that line but the show had way more to it than just that.

This Comedy Central sketch comedy show, starring comedian-turned-actor Dave Chappelle, in two (or two-and-a-half) short seasons, spawned a slew of catchphrases and became the poster boy for Too Good to Last, as behind the scenes Executive Meddling and Chappelle's Fan Dumb-induced Creator Breakdown ended up causing him to stop production of the show shortly after filming of season three began.

A stealth hit (Chappelle joked in a season two promo that the show was only renewed because Comedy Central needed a show to fill in time on the schedule until Reno 911! came back), the series came into its own with its second season. The show became a massive ratings and critical hit. As such, there was much hype and anticipation for the show's third season as Dave signed a massive contract with Comedy Central that granted him a large paycheck and a considerable cut of DVD sales for the show.

Then things changed, as it was reported that Chappelle went missing after filming three episodes worth of sketches for his show, ultimately resurfacing in South Africa, while the Season Three premiere date came and went with no show in sight. As fans would find out, Dave Chappelle had become disillusioned with fame and the show: his edgy, in-your-face racial humor was being taken at face value by his now predominately white fanbase, culminating in him coming to the conclusion that he had become the very thing he was mocking with his racially charged material. Adding to this was Comedy Central, who had given the show free rein for Seasons One and Two, suddenly sticking their noses into the production of the program and Chappelle falling out with his longtime friends/fellow writers who were more concerned with keeping the gravy train running than with his existential crisis.

At least that's the way Dave tells it. Neal Brennan, Dave's partner and co-creator of Chappelle's Show, was very angry about the whole matter and spoke out publicly against Dave.

Chappelle ultimately vanished from the set and refused to continue production with the show despite receiving a massive contract for the third season. While negotiations for his return were in the works, it became obvious that he was in no hurry to return to TV.

Comedy Central, tired of waiting, ultimately aired the filmed sketches as "the Lost Episodes" with introductions from Chappelle's co-stars. This did not go over well with Dave, who disliked the sketches he filmed and did not want them to see the light of day. As such, the series is dead (although Dave has said he might bring it back if he's allowed a massive retool).

Tropes used in Chappelle's Show include:

Dave: (recovering from hysterics) Apparently, shooting a slave master is only funny to me and Neal; if I could, I'd do it every episode!

  • Black Best Friend: Inverted with Neal Brennan, Dave's white best friend.
  • Blind Black Guy: Clayton Bigsby, black white supremacist.
  • Boomerang Bigot: The skit "Black White Supremacist" featured a blind black man who grows up under the impression that he is white; he becomes a prominent white supremacist writer and Klan leader. He eventually finds out that he is black and divorces his wife for being a "nigger-lover".
  • Call Back: Wayne Brady's heroic sociopath end of season guest spot was set up way early in season two, with a sketch where the tame and rather non-threatening comic is mocked by way of Paul Mooney saying "white people love Wayne Brady because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X." Said scene is even played back during Wayne Brady's guest spot.
    • Few people are aware that the Hilarious in Hindsight element of the Negrodamus line was unintentional on Dave's part. Wayne Brady was a major reason the penultimate season two episode existed in the first place. Wayne Brady, in an interview on The Steve Harvey Morning Show, claimed that he disliked the Negrodamus joke. He didn't mind the joke being used at his expense, but he DID mind that it was (to him) completely unfunny. So Chappelle, who respected Brady very much, gave Brady a call to come onto the show, and they collaborated on that infamous Training Day parody. The rest is history.
      • That parody actually involved a fair few Call Backs, including Dave's "son"'s love for Nick Cannon and Dave's daydream of being a rapper with goat legs.
    • Season 2 had a lot of callbacks outside of the Brady episode. In the jury selection sketch, Dave is asked by a prosecutor what proof he would need to identify R. Kelly in his infamous "pee tape". He starts his ridiculous list of demands with, "He would have to be singing 'Piss On You'."
  • Camp Gay: Every man (aside from Kent Wallace, the reporter) in the Gay America sketch from the episode from the second season that featured sketches that weren't fit to air.
  • Catch Phrase: See the page quote, which, oddly enough, was only used in one sketch. Dave was much more prone to using "bitch" and its variants as a catchphrase (see the entry on This Is for Emphasis, Bitch).
  • Character Development: The "The Three Daves" skit, in which Dave talks about how he's been at least three different people in the (then) past 12 years. He then explores how eighteen!Dave, twenty-four!Dave and Dave!prime react to different situations.
  • Clip Show: Or "Mix Tape" as Dave called them. The series had several, including several based around the music acts featured in the show.
  • Creepy Monotone: Prince.
  • Deconstruction: Season 1 had a skit where Dave showed the consequences of what would happen if reparations for slavery were actually sent out (i.e. if the black community suddenly found itself quite wealthy). These consequences included chicken shooting up to $600 a bucket, 800 record labels being started in a hour, and Colin Powell bitch-slapping Dick Cheney. The idea was reconstructed at the same time, however, with Sprint's stock going up after thousands of delinquent phone bills were paid off and the crime rate falling to 0%.
    • There was also a recurring sketch called "Real Movies", where Dave showed what certain movies would look like if they were actually realistic, such as a version of The Matrix in which it turns out that when Neo was called by Morpheus while in his office, Morpheus was just "Earl from down the hall" and needed to borrow Neo's stapler.
    • There was also a sketch showing what would happen if people really did "keep it real." The answer? Lotta prison time, lotta beatings.
    • Parodied old-school McDonald's commercials that claimed how the franchise was really beneficial to low-income neighborhoods by providing many easy jobs. Two months after "Calvin" has been working there, he's frequently mugged (because they know he has a steady paycheck), has lost all respect from his peers, and his girlfriend cheats on him while he's at work.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In one "Player Haters' Ball" skit, Ice T dips into this:

Ice T: Next motherfucker that interrupts me is gettin' shot. Please believe that.

    • In an example that overlaps with Tough Love, Leonard Washington strands his "Trading Spouses" counterpart's white son in the ghetto after he catches him pretending to be part of "G-g-g-g-G-UNIT!"

"Well, moptop, here ya are! Home sweet home, the hood! ... G-g-g-g-goodbye!"

  • Dramatization: Parodied with "Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories".
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: During the Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories skit about Prince, Charlie Murphy remarks how Micki Free, a member of Prince's crew, looked like a girl.

"When he joined the group, I heard mad cats like, 'Yo, Shalamar got a new girl in there, man, that bitch fine like a motherfucker.' They was talking about Micki Free, man, okay? Micki Free is not a girl."

Dave: And you know what the most dope thing about "skeet" is? White people don't know what it means yet. When they figure it out, they're going to be like, "My God, what have we done?"

    • Also, after the "Ask a Black Dude with Paul Mooney" segment, Dave laughingly claims, "Nigga, I'm gonna get canceled for sure!" Sure, the show wasn't actually canceled per see, but considering all of the factors contributing to Dave's Creator Breakdown and him leaving the show, it almost seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy...
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "Player Haters' Ball" features a whole convention of them.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Parodied with the Roots gag reel.
  • Left It In: In one segment, a reporter is investigating a Jedi abuse scandal analogous to the Catholic priest pedophilia scandals. While interviewing a "Jarth Mader", an anonymous victim who wears a helmet and has a respiration problem, Mader puts his head in his hands in tears. The reporter says "Cut" to the cameraman, but mouths the words "keep rolling" since Mader's not looking.
  • Motor Mouth: The "Lemme holla at ya" guy.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Again, all those fans at concerts shouting out the Rick James line.
  • N-Word Privileges: Nigga, this show loved playing with this.
    • Case in point: "The Niggar Family", about a (white) family with a very unlikely last name.
    • Also subverted in the extended Paul Mooney interview for "Ask a Black Dude" in the Season 1 DVD special features. After Mooney ends his answer to Stephen King's question by saying that he wrote a horror film called "Niggas in School", one of the white guys off camera repeats the title while laughing, which makes Mooney laugh as well.
  • No Indoor Voice: The Sam Jackson Beer sketch.

"NO I CAN'T STOP YELLING, CAUSE THAT'S HOW I TALK! HAVEN'T YOU EVER SEEN MY MOVIES?! JUICE?! THAT WAS A GOOD ONE! DEEP BLUE SEA?! THEY ATE ME, A FUCKING SHARK ATE ME! DRINK, BITCH! JURASSIC PARK?!"

  • No, You: In one of the interludes with the audience, Dave mentions how his post-"Piss On You" conversation with R. Kelly went:

R. Kelly: How you gonna make a video about peeing on somebody?
Dave: Nigga, how you gonna make a video about peeing on somebody?

  • Once an Episode: The same extra doing The Robot.
  • Overused Running Gag: In case it isn't already clear, the Rick James line. And not by the show, by the fans.
  • Overly Long Gag: The Lil' Jon sketches (WHAT?!) I said, the Lil' Jon sketches (WHAT?!) the Lil' Jon sketches! (O-KAAY!)
  • Parody Commercial: A staple of the show--"The Love Contract", "Samuel L. Jackson Beer", Roots on DVD with "outtakes"....
  • Poe's Law: One of the factors in Dave Chappelle's Creator Backlash was the realization that a significant chunk of his audience was racist white people taking the racial stereotyping at face value and/or just being titillated by hearing the word "nigger" a lot.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Used by Buck-Nasty in the Time Haters sketch...

Slave Master: (brandishing a whip) You better watch yo' mouth!
'Buck Nasty: Actually, you better watch yo mouth, before I stick these gators up your ass and show your insides some style!

  • Reality Is Unrealistic: At the end of the extended Paul Mooney interview for "Ask a Black Dude" in the Season 1 DVD special features, someone off camera asks Mooney who he thinks came up with the questions. When he guesses that it was a combination of "Dave and the white writer", everyone tells him they were real questions asked by those who were interviewed. He doesn't believe it at first and insists that all of those people should have been arrested for asking such questions.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Watching even one episode will make that abundantly clear.
  • Rule of Funny: In the "I Know Black People" game show, the question asked is "Is pimpin' easy?" All of the white contestants (accurately) answer "Pimpin' ain't easy!". The only black person in the contest thinks it over for a moment, and responds "Hell, yeah". Ding!

Host!Dave: Somehow, that is correct!

  • Running Gag: "Cocaine is a hell of a drug." Mildly amusing the first time, downright hilarious by the time it's finally said in context.

Rick James: I mean, can you imagine two grown men doing this?... Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

  • Samuel L. Jackson: Selling his own brand of beer.
    • In a sketch using the Jedi knights as a metaphor for Catholic priests, Mace Windu (with Jules' Afro) makes an appearance to decry the child sex scandal tearing apart the Jedi order.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Parodied by inversion in "Tron Carter's Law & Order". In response to the Enron scandal, Dave did a skit where the titular Tron got the lenient, white-collar treatment and got to plead the "fif" in front of Congress while his white-collar business counterpart got treated harshly, abused, and sentenced to life in prison. And in a month, Tron will be out and back to trafficking rocks... to the community.
  • Self-Deprecation: A lot of jokes came from Dave's supposed inability to satisfy women sexually. Also:

Little Girl: Hey, you're Chris Rock!
Dave: Dave Chappelle, but close enough.

    • Also the entire point of the "Three Daves" sketch.
  • Shout-Out: Both editions of Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories contained numerous references to both Rick James and Prince's careers.

Charlie: [while playing basketball] Hey Prince, man, you got a towel? It's kinda hot out here.
Prince: Why don't you purify yourself, in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?

  • Show Within a Show: I Know Black People, Mad Real World.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Sociopathic Hero: Wayne Brady. Is Wayne Brady gonna hafta choke a bitch?
  • Sorry, Ociffer...: Several skits show various reactions to this. In one instance, the stoned driver convinces the cop to smoke his weed, and then speeds off.
  • Special Guest: Nick Cannon appears as himself in a sketch. After being picked over Dave for a project. Dave's son thinks he's "hilarious", Dave doesn't.

"I'm BROKE, son, I'm BROKE!"
"FUCK Nick Cannon!"

  • Strawman Political: Chuck Taylor, the preppy, white guy Dave Chappelle played.
    • It should be noted that most white people don't like that kind of guy, either.
  • Subverted Kids Show: The show had one sketch where puppets (voiced by the regulars of the show) taught the kids about things like homelessness, drugs, masturbation, and STDs.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Apart from the obvious one, the show used a few more this a lot:

"I'm rich, biatch!"
"That mother... I'm broke, biatch!"
"Konichiwa, bitches."
"Thank you, bitches."
"Mmm, mmm, bitch!"
"It's a celebration, bitch!"
"Kiss the rings, bitch."
"Yes I'm sure, bitch!"
"What's really hood, bitch?"
"I'm Wayne Brady, bitch!"
"Spambusters, bitch!"

  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Deconstructed, inverted, parodied, and in every other way turned on its head. Sadly, this was lost on at least a few people.
    • Ironically enough, this was the very reason why Dave Chappelle decided not to go on with the show. He felt he became what he was mocking.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Co-creator and co-writer Neal Brennan was not happy at all about the way Chappelle ended the show. Though, recently, on his podcast, The Champs, he's made a point of referring to Dave as "my friend" and talking about their collaboration fondly.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: The Slow Motion skits would turn Dave from a complete loser to a total Badass when they "replayed" the video in slow motion (the slo-mo replays were actually different clips that followed a similar sequence of events to that of the regular-motion clips, but the events played out in Dave's favor in the slo-mo videos (except when he sat on the toilet)).
  • White Dude, Black Dude: Played with in a few skits.
  • White Like Me: Chuck Taylor, as well as when Dave plays the white dad in the Trading Spouses skit and the white pixie in the "Racial Pixies" skit.
  • You Killed My Father: Played with. The real-life Iraqi assassination plot against George Bush Sr. is used by black Bush Jr. as a reason to invade.

"He tried to kill my father, man... THE NIGGA TRIED TO KILL MY FAAATHER!"

  • Your Head Asplode: In the Clayton Bigsby sketch, this happens to one of the Klansmen after he finds out that Clayton, the white supremacist leader, is actually black.