Comics Pay Tribute to Chappelle for Big Honor

He picks up the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2019 7:14 AM CDT
Chappelle Gets Twain Honor. 5 Lines From the Night
Dave Chappelle is honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Washington.   (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Dave Chappelle was honored Sunday with the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and a who's who of the comedy and entertainment industry turned out to praise him. "It's the best part of the First Amendment to me that I'm able to express myself this way and make a viable living doing it," the comic told NPR before the show. "And it's not necessarily an easy living but it's ... worth everything that I've been through." Some highlights from the show, via NPR, WTOP, and the Hill:

  • Jon Stewart: He called Chappelle's Comedy Central show a "cultural phenomenon" and said the network offered Chappelle $50 million to stay. "But Dave, at that moment, was conflicted because of the difficulty of how the show was to do, because he wondered about its impact on the audience that he meant it for," said Stewart. "And he wondered if the creative process wasn't right for it. And he walked away. And it was that moment that I remember thinking: 'Comedy Central has $50 million?' ... Dave left, but I knew that money was going to need a home. I want you to know that I raised that money like it was my own."
  • Sarah Silverman: "Dave, can you believe this? You're getting the freaking Mark Twain Prize," she said. "You deserve it. It's the right thing. It's actually perfect that you're getting the Mark Twain Prize because you both love using the n-word in your masterpieces."
  • Michael Che: “I had no idea you had so many old white fans. I feel like I died and went to Brooks Brothers,” Che said. "[You’re] not afraid of telling people the truth about how we feel. Nobody does it better than you, ever. We all know that we’re a part of the joke. Dave is willing to make fun of everybody, whether you’re white or gay, end of list."

  • Aziz Ansari: "Dave Chappelle: the only person in the world with a Mark Twain Prize and grills," he said. "November 2003, I’m a junior at NYU and my mom says, 'Are you coming home for Thanksgiving?' 'I say, 'There’s a change of plans, Dave Chappelle is doing shows in San Francisco at The Punchline and I gotta go.' She says, 'Is that the guy who goes, 'I’m Rick James, b----? He’s hilarious. Have a good time.'"
  • Chappelle: "But early in my career, if you remember, mom, you used to sit in the club with me," he said on the stage. "She'd do a full day of work. You'd be back there falling asleep, just waiting for me to go on. She would watch my show every night. Do you know how long that car ride is home?" Then he added: "How many of you have ever heard your mother say: 'P---y jokes were a little too much tonight, son'?"
(More Dave Chappelle stories.)

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