Dave Chappelle opened up about quitting Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central during an interview with David Letterman on Late Show. Chappelle’s visit was a rare one indeed; in fact, it was the first time Letterman interviewed the comedian in 10 years. We posted a preview of the interview yesterday, but below we find Chappelle talking at length about his Chappelle’s Show departure in 2005, which found Chappelle walking away from a $50 million contract and retreating to South Africa.
“I was there for two weeks,” Chappelle told Letterman about his trip to Africa. “There’s not too many good hiding places left in America.” Letterman was eager to see what Chappelle thought of all the mystery surrounding his fleeing his career in television.
“I don’t know [if it was mysterious], because when it was all over the media, I was gone,” Chappelle says. “And then if you’re the guy, no one really says anything to you— so I don’t know if it was mysterious or not mysterious. It was like living in the corner of perception and reality. And it’s a weird place to be. When everyone thought Wesley Snipes was in jail, I saw him at a party.”
Letterman then gently pushed Chappelle to talk about the moment he decided to leave his show and asked the comedian if he now regrets giving up that giant sack of cash.
“Ok, look, Dave,” Chappelle begins. “It’s very hard to go through something like this because no one’s really done it before. So there’s not too many people who don’t think I’m crazy. So, I look at it like this: I’m at a restaurant with my wife. It’s a nice restaurant, we’re eating dinner. I look across the room and I say, ‘You see this guy over here across the room? He has 100 million dollars and we’re eating the same entrée. So, ok. I don’t have 50 million dollars or whatever it was. But say I have 10 million in the bank. The difference in lifestyle is miniscule. The only difference between having 10 million dollars and 50 million dollars is an astounding 40 million dollars. Of course I would like to have that money.”
Letterman than asks Chappelle how he currently feels for having made that decision. “It’s a very complicated answer,” Chappelle says. “Money is the fuel for choices. Money gives me choices. So that’s not nothing. It’s something. I can choose where my kids go to school; I can choose where I want to eat on any given day. But it’s not the end all be all. There are other things in my life that I don’t purchase with money that are very valuable to me.”
Finally Letterman asks Chappelle if he thinks he’d be a happier or better person with that extra 40 million. “I think I’d be a happier person. I don’t know,” Chappelle says. “There’s no way of knowing. Sometimes I listen to a Jay Z record and it starts to make me feel bad about some of the choices I make. This guy has had more fun on two songs than I’ve had in the last 11 years.”