Friday, February 03, 2006

Saint Oprah

Dave Chapelle sat down for Oprah, who's had herself a very eventful two weeks on the pop-culture radar. She gave Dave a very warm place to unwind and tell his side of the Comedy Central breakup -- so, what did we learn? Not much. What was actually shocking to me was that Neal Brennan didn't get in touch with Dave during the whole Africa thing. Not knowing what Neal's side of the deal is, it sounds pretty cold to not acknowedge his (nominal) best friend's crisis.

Dave didn't have much new to say, other than the usual "throes of fame" woe that people who run from success claim. He is obviously perturbed, so much so that he walked away from $50M. (I was wondering what the state of the contract was -- at least we now know that the cash stays with Viacom.)

What was weird were the terms Dave laid out to the audience and Comedy Central for his return (because, apparently, $50M isn't good enough). He said that he'd give half of his DVD back-end money to charity in return for an overhaul of the "poisonous" working environment (although one would imagine there's no one but Dave to blame for said conditions -- it is his show after all). He seemed to keep to this point that he was "part of the problem and not the solution" -- that is, his spotlight on our society/pop culture was causing people to laugh at our woes instead of address them.

Dave: You're a fucking comedian. A good one. You have unprecedented access into the homes of equal parts of black and white audiences, without an erg of power loss. But you're not Desmond Tutu. Give half your money to charity, a great idea. But don't pretend that a well-intended skit-show on basic cable alone is making anything better OR worse.