Dave Chappelle Says He’s Not Crazy
Dave Chappelle is in South Africa but is not on drugs or checked into a psychiatric ward, according to an interview with Time magazine.
The first thing Chappelle wants is to dispel rumors that he’s got a drug problem, that he’s checked into a mental institution in Durban that have been flying around the U.S. for the past week. He says he is staying with a friend, Salim Domar, and not in a mental institution, as has been widely reported in America. Chappelle says he is in South Africa to find “a quiet place” for a while. “Let me tell you the things I can do here which I can’t at home: think, eat, sleep, laugh. I’m an introspective dude. I enjoy my own thoughts sometimes. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking here.”
The picture he paints–and it seems a fairly honest and frank assessment–is of someone struggling to come to terms with a new position and power who’s still figuring out how to come to grips with how people around him are reacting to the $50 million deal he signed last year with Comedy Central. Without naming specific characters, he seems to blame both some of his inner circle (not his family) and himself for the stresses created by last year’s deal.
“There were things that overwhelmed me,” he says. “But not in the way that people are saying. I haven’t spent any of the money. All that stuff about partying and taking crack is not true. Why do I live on a farm in Ohio? To support my partying lifestyle?”
This is Chappelle’s second trip to South Africa. He first came to Durban, and visited Salim, in 2000. Chappelle won’t tell me exactly how he met Salim but describes him as a family friend. A soft-spoken Muslim, Salim seems also to be something of a sounding board to Chappelle, who converted to Islam several years ago. While Chappelle is not doing a formal religious course in Durban, says Salim, who wore a simple cotton robe and hung back through the interview and photo shoot and only spoke when I asked him a question, “if he wants to talk religion then I’m there as someone to talk to.” Says Chappelle: “This is kind of my spot where I can come to fill my spirit back up. Sometimes you neglect these things if you are running on a corporate schedule.” The crux of his crisis seems to boil down to his almost obsessive need to “check my intentions.” He uses the phrase a few times during the interview and explains that it means really making sure that he’s doing what he’s doing for the right reasons.
I’m glad to hear that his mental health is not in serious jeopardy, at least. I suppose one of the down sides to having a lot of money–and this is pure conjecture on my part–is having to always wonder what the motivations of those around you are. Still, it’s hard to fathom just chucking one’s responsibilities and heading off to South Africa, especially when you’ve been paid $50 million for your services and have dozens of people depending on you for their livelihood.
Update: Headline shamelessly stolen from the AP: Dave Chappelle Says He’s Not Crazy