Chappelle’s Just Chillin’ In South Africa

TV News | May 15th, 2005

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On the Beach With Dave Chappelle
In South Africa, TIME’s Simon Robinson talks with the comic about his sudden disappearance from Chappelle’s Show

In this week’s TIME, Christopher John Farley reveals why Dave Chappelle decided to leave his hit show and what he’s been up to since he disappeared to South Africa two weeks ago. Last Friday night, TIME Johannesburg bureau chief Simon Robinson met with the comic at uShaka Marine World on the beach in the South African port of Durban. In a ninety minute conversation, Chappelle was eager to set the record straight on why he suddenly left the U.S. and what he’s doing in South Africa. Here’s Robinson’s account:

Dave Chappelle shows up to our interview in a red t-shirt, blue jeans and shiny white sneakers. He lopes around in his usual style, pacing a lot, but does not seem like a man struggling to speak or to order his thoughts at all. He’s lucid and thoughtful and a couple of times asks me to give him some time to think about answers. He concedes that he is dealing with a lot of issues and mentions that he had consulted a psychiatrist about a week ago for a forty minute session. He is also quite fastidious about keeping his new sneakers clean and stops at least twice to wipe smudges off their toes.

The first thing Chappelle wants is to dispel rumorsthat he’s got a drug problem, that he’s checked into a mental institution in Durbanthat have been flying around the U.S. for the past week. He says he is staying with a friend, Salim Domar, and not in a mental institution, as has been widely reported in America. Chappelle says he is in South Africa to find “a quiet place” for a while. “Let me tell you the things I can do here which I can’t at home: think, eat, sleep, laugh. I’m an introspective dude. I enjoy my own thoughts sometimes. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking here.”

The picture he paintsand it seems a fairly honest and frank assessment is of someone struggling to come to terms with a new position and power who’s still figuring out how to come to grips with how people around him are reacting to the $50 million deal he signed last year with Comedy Central. Without naming specific characters, he seems to blame both some of his inner circle (not his family) and himself for the stresses created by last year’s deal.

“There were things that overwhelmed me,” he says. “But not in the way that people are saying. I haven’t spent any of the money. All that stuff about partying and taking crack is not true. Why do I live on a farm in Ohio? To support my partying lifestyle?

click the link to read the full interview.