Dave Chappelle Sits Down with Anderson Cooper

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Anderson Cooper is greedy. As if the first sit-down with Angelina Jolie after the actress wasn't enough, now the talk show host has nabbed another celebrity guest.

  • The Silver Fox
  • Dave Chappelle Hands Up

As Comedy Central begins to air Chappelle's Show - you know, without Dave Chappelle - Cooper interviewed the zany, rich comedian. The Gossip has recorded the transcript below ...

COOPER: And I'm very pleased that Dave Chappelle joins me live. Dave thanks for being with us.

CHAPPELLE: Man thank you, Anderson. Thank you very much. That was a tearjerker.

COOPER: So what do you think about these so-called lost episodes?

CHAPPELLE: It's funny, I have mixed feelings. I mean, 90 percent of me feels like I wish they wouldn't do this. There's the 10 percent comedian that's like, I hope the sketches do good.

COOPER: Really, so part of you kind of wants to make sure they do alright?

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, oh, yeah. But -- I think the thing that upsets me about it the most is that I was so public about not liking a particular sketch and from my understanding that's included in the three episodes.

COOPER: You talked on "Oprah" about some of the sketches that you were working on and that you felt that they were almost inappropriate or -- I don't want to put words in your mouth. But irresponsible --

CHAPPELLE: Socially irresponsible. In that case, I was speaking about one in particular, in where I appeared in blackface. It's funny but its like -- someone on the set while we were filming it laughed in such a way that I was like, I can't subject my audience to that.

COOPER: There was a white man on the set, one of the people working on the show who laughs --

CHAPPELLE: The way he laughed, made me feel like this guy's laughing for the wrong reasons. And I dared him to laugh Anderson, so that's my --

COOPER: Because people, I mean you want --

CHAPPELLE: It stirred something up in me emotionally that I was like, I don't want to subject anyone else to. And that will be included in the so-called lost episodes. That's one of the reasons why I said it's a bully move.

COOPER: Do you want your fans -- do you wish your fans would not watch these so-called lost episodes?

CHAPPELLE: Mmm --

COOPER: Are you going to watch them?

CHAPPELLE: No, man. Yeah, probably at some point in my life I will watch them, but --

COOPER: Not now?

CHAPPELLE: Actually, I don't know. I don't know the answer to that question, yeah I'll watch them, shoot.

COOPER: You can come over to my house, if you want.

CHAPPELLE: I'm not going to lie. Yeah I'm going to watch. I'll be mad, and fists balled up. It's like watching "The Cosby Show" and it's just Rudy and Vanessa. It's like, hey, where's Bill at?

COOPER: I think that would be unwatchable, frankly.

CHAPPELLE: It's like -- you know, a lot of the press that I've done, I was doing press for the "Block Party" DVD coming out, mostly radio. And they would keep asking me about how I felt about Charlie Murphy and Darnell, which is something that I feel like I should have a conversation with Charlie and Darnell about. But like I don't want to disparage the guys who participated in it.

COOPER: Have you had conversations with the folks you worked with, like Charlie Murphy?

CHAPPELLE: I saw Charlie a week before they taped the lost episodes. At a comedy club. He didn't even mention it to me. At that point, I didn't know that they were even going ahead and filming it with Charlie and Darnell hosting.

COOPER: On the "Oprah" show you said that you would have gone back to your show if you guys could have worked out some sort of a deal where they gave like half of the DVD profits to charities of your choosing and if you could have reached some deal on the work environment that you had been working under. Did you try to do that? That just didn't work out?

CHAPPELLE: No, they called me basically --

COOPER: You say something like that on "Oprah", I imagine like you get a million calls.

CHAPPELLE: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I mean that's the thing. There's two perceptions that people have. One perception is that I got paid $50 million and left. That's not what happened. If that was the case, then I'd be running from the law. I didn't get $50 million. I'm not $50 million richer than before I signed the deal. Another thing that always bothers me is that whenever I see my name in the paper, they always mention $50 million. And no one ever mentioned how much money the show generated. Like what are they making to pay Dave Chappelle $50 million? Am I asking for an unreasonable sum or portion? I'm just interested to know and I'm surprised nobody else is.

COOPER: They were making clearly hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. The DVD sales were -- the DVD was the most popular DVD I think ever sold.

CHAPPELLE: Right, and I know what the budget of the show was.

COOPER: Right.

CHAPPELLE: So it's an incredible return on investment. So when Doug says in the paper -- I'm just airing what I paid for and cries about an $8 million loss, from the stalled season, it's like $8 million from what? Hundreds of millions of dollars.

COOPER: This is what the president of Comedy Central, I guess Doug Herzog said. He said quote, we were hoping against hope that we would hear from Dave and that he would come back. We really didn't want to do this without him but we needed some closure. We did pay for the episodes so we might as well use them. I'm try to run a business.

CHAPPELLE: I mean that's pretty definitive. But I think one of the reasons why I didn't get back to him is because there's so many unresolved issues around the show that don't just have to do with Comedy Central exclusively.

COOPER: You know, a lot of people do focus on -- that you left the show. And after achieving -- I mean, you had a tough road coming up. You were in -- you had a lot of stuff canceled over the years. In many people's eyes, you'd reached this pinnacle of success in what they determined success, tons of money, a huge hit show. On the "Oprah Winfrey Show" you described the situation that you found yourself in, you said, I don't care who you think you are or how you think you do it, you cannot imagine what celebrities go through as far as how your integrity, your self image and all these things are challenged. Can you describe what -- how did things change? How did your life change? How did the people around you change? When all of a sudden everyone had that $50 million figure in their head?

CHAPPELLE: It's almost indescribable. I mean, people who go and see my stand up recently especially -- I talk about it a lot in my act just because it's kind of cathartic. But it's almost indescribable. It's all-encompassing. It comes from so many angles and people who you know, I mean like this, it's like the relationships are different.

COOPER: Even though you were already a huge celebrity. Even though you're already, you know, described as a genius comedian and I'm sure were making a lot of money. Something about that figure, something about -- you reach a different plateau.

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, something -- absolutely, man. I think one of the things that happened, one of the incidents that happened with this that was really off-putting is when I first signed the deal. You know, there was a big like, don't mention the terms of the deal Dave. Whatever you do, don't mention how much you're making, it should be a big secret. So I go, fine, I won't. And then the next morning in the paper, it's like Dave Chappelle makes $50 million. Which is like putting a social hit on a person. You know? It's like from that moment on, my life was completely different. I think that people judge you differently. And incentives or -- you start dealing with the agendas.

COOPER: Right.

CHAPPELLE: You know, kind actions that people do towards you with bad intentions behind them is a really --

COOPER: You also have people around you who -- they make money when you make money and the more money you make the more money they make.

CHAPPELLE: Most of the people around me have a vested interest in how much money I make. You know, so a celebrity could find themselves in a position where people could have meetings about their life without them involved. And when I say "their life" I mean not their professional life either. They could talk about their personal life.

COOPER: They're all talking about you in the third person --

CHAPPELLE: Right, because there's an element -- you become a product before you're a human being.

COOPER: Right.

CHAPPELLE: And it's a difficult place to be. I mean for, yeah, for -- I think for most celebrities it's probably got to be challenging.

COOPER: Are there moments now when you think you made a mistake or do you feel -- are you happier now than you were a year ago?
CHAPPELLE: No, no, that's a good question, man. You know, listen, walking away from $50 million.

COOPER: It's not easy.

CHAPPELLE: It's not a easy thing to do.

COOPER: I can't imagine it's easy.

CHAPPELLE: I didn't flee from it or it wasn't like -- but it wasn't -- it wasn't an easy thing to do. At the time, it felt like I just want to survive, like I'm not happy. This is not a good environment for me. And I've got to get out of here.

COOPER: So if people do watch these so-called lost episodes this weekend, what do you want them to know as they're watching it, or in making the decision whether or not to watch it?

CHAPPELLE: I think in some of the press that I read leading up to it, that I don't like people to feel sad for me or sorry for me. I do enough of that on my own. I think that, you know, I'm out there man. I'm going to be telling my jokes, I'm going to find my stride. You know this happened to me right before I did Chappelle Show. I was in like this career limbo like this. Which was good for me. I think it was one of the times it enabled me to do something that I've always wanted to do. And I'm just trying -- I'm just trying to go and do something -- you know, bigger and better things.

COOPER: The "Block Party" is on DVD. I haven't seen it but I've heard it's fantastic.

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, it was great. Michel Gondry directed it. Big up to Michelle.

COOPER: Is being back on stage good? I mean is it -- how is it going out there?

CHAPPELLE: It's incredible. Because I was surrounded by so much negativity at some point that it took me going back and doing stand-up to realize, you know, people really like me. There's a lot of people who don't want anything from me but to laugh and have a good time. You see them at the show and they like -- they dress up to come see your show and stuff. And they pack these auditoriums and it's a lot of fun, man. It's like, this is how I started, and it's still fun for me.

COOPER: Is it nice to know that you can always do that? That no matter what, no matter what happens, no matter how big or small or whatever's gone on in your life, you can always, on a stage, make people laugh?

CHAPPELLE: Yeah, it's really nice, man. It's -- that's a whole other thing that's hard for people to imagine. But if you can just imagine looking out at thousands of people who are just smiling at you, that's a really positive, reinforcing thing. Good for the ego and soul. It's kind of like the basic element of show business.

That's what I originally intended to be. And then all this other stuff happens. And it's great. And you get ambitious, but when you get back to what you originally intended to do, that's great too. Because you have a new appreciation for it.

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