Dave Chappelle is undoubtedly a comic extraordinaire who has consistently drawn praise as a comic and a social critic. The comedian does it better than anyone in the industry.
Chappelle was born on August 24, 1973, in Washington DC to Yvonne Chappelle Seon and William David Chappelle III, both professors. His great-grandfather William David Chappelle was born enslaved but went on to become an HBCU president. In fact, the comedian’s first name was inspired by older Chappelle’s middle name.
Chappelle is no doubt proud of his great-grandfather who laid the foundation for the comedian’s father and ultimately, for him. As he told an audience last year, he is glad his great-grandfather became “a man of education and [who] dedicated his life to three things: Education, freedom of Black people, Jesus Christ”.
Beyond his great-grandfather, Chappelle grew up idolizing Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor. His parents separated when he was young but he lived with his mother and spent the summer in Ohio with his father.
Chappelle trained as a teacher at Duke Ellington School of the Art but moved to New York City to pursue a career in comedy. His first show at the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night turned awful as he was booed off the stage. However, he quickly made a name for himself on the New York comedy circuit.
He also appeared on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam in 1992 and won critical and popular acclaim for his performance, according to Celebrity Net Worth. He subsequently became a regular guest on the late-night circuit on shows like Late Show with David Letterman, The Howard Stern Show, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
At age 20, Chappelle made his first film debut in Robin Hood: Men In Tights and took on other film roles. In 2003, he launched the ‘Chappelle’s Show’ on Comedy Central. The popularity of the show earned him a $55 million contract to continue the show for two years. He walked away from the show during the production of the third season, turning down a new $50 million contract from Comedy Central.
Since then, he became a household name and engaged in various stand-up acts and TV shows. Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time ever in November 2016 after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. This propelled him to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance.
In November 2016, reports said he inked a $60 million deal with Netflix to deliver three standup specials to the streaming service. “Between June 2016 and June 2017, Dave earned $47 million. Between June 2017 and June 2018, Dave earned $35 million,” according to Celebrity Net Worth. His Netflix production led him to receive a Grammy Award in 2018 for Best Comedy Album for his first two Netflix specials: The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas.
He also won a Grammy, as well as an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special for his Equanimity special, according to Celebrity Net Worth. And in 2020, he grabbed his third Grammy in a row for “Sticks & Stones”.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Chappelle has a net worth of $50 million, making him one of the richest comedians in the world.
The comedian last month addressed the controversy and backlash that ensued following the comments he made about the trans community on his Netflix comedy special, The Closer.
In a video shared on Instagram, the comedian said that though he’s willing to talk to LGBTQ workers of the video streaming company as well as the other people aggrieved by his comments on the special, he won’t be taking back his words.
“It was said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true,” the 48-year-old said, according to PEOPLE.
“If they invited me, I would have accepted it, although I’m confused about what we’re speaking about,” he added. “I said what I said. And, boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”
Chappelle’s special, which was released on Netflix this month, was heavily criticized over jokes he made about trans women. He was also called out for supporting J.K. Rowling. The popular author was labeled as transphobic over past comments.