Reclusive comedian Dave Chappelle may finally be ready to end his self-imposed exile from the comedy circuit.
After voluntarily spending several years outside of the public spotlight, the legendary performer recently resurfaced at the Comedy Cellar in New York City for a series of performances which began on Feb. 26. An appearance by fellow comedian and long-rumored potential tour mate Chris Rock has fueled speculation that the two may be planning to perform together on a more permanent basis.
According to a speculative Los Angeles Times report on Wednesday, Chappelle and Rock engaged in some serious on-stage banter on Feb. 27 after the first night at the Comedy Cellar. Rock reportedly told Chappelle that he “should come down to Palm Beach,” to which Chappelle responded, “After next Tuesday, I’m free for like 11 years.” The pair went on to discuss their availability for a possible tour, leading Rock to mention that “by Halloween I could do dates.” The Times also claims that the comedic duo texted rapper Jay-Z from stage and left a voicemail for Arsenio Hall.
When reached for comment, Chappelle’s rep reportedly told Entertainment Weekly that “I can’t even say.” For fans, the absence of an outright denial is reason enough to get excited.
Chappelle is best known as the star of the critically acclaimed “Chappelle’s Show,” which aired on Comedy Central from 2003 to 2006. The sketch comedy series, which featured the comedian’s off-the wall antics and audacious opinions, earned massive ratings and quickly became one of the most popular shows on television.
Still, Chappelle shocked fans in 2006 by breaking his $50 million contract and flying to Africa during the show’s third season without providing an explanation. "I can't think of anyone else in television history who made the kind of career move that he did -- to walk away," television historian Tim Brooks told the LA Times.
Chappelle has been flirting with a return to the public eye for several years now. In 2011, he was rumored to be developing a new television series, only to have his reps deny the claims. Last year, he joined Twitter for exactly five days before determining that social media wasn’t for him. Legions of “Chappelle’s Show” fans are hoping that this time will be different.