Dave Chappelle on Activism: ‘The Biggest Enemy of an Artist Is Apathy’

Dave Chappelle speaks onstage during the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation Celebrates 20th Anniversary at Art for Life event, July 18, 2015, in Water Mill, N.Y.
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Bombay Sapphire Gin

After quitting his highly rated TV show and taking a break from the stage, Dave Chappelle is back and he’s wearing his comedic boxing gloves. Chappelle did whatever he had to do to regroup, and now, with dates in the U.S. and abroad, today's racial issues will help craft his comedy material.

On Saturday, Chappelle was on hand in Bridgehampton, N.Y., to receive an award from Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. The comedian spoke about how he's returning to what he loves at an interesting time.


"This is a very surprisingly emotionally charged time, so people like me, I think, are very relevant and necessary in sorting through all this information and emotional content," Chappelle told the Associated Press. "And when we are at our best, hopefully we are doing a great service to many people."

During a time when people look to artists to speak out against injustice and join in activism, Chappelle agreed that artists need to do just that.

"The biggest enemy of an artist is apathy," he said. "A kid gets killed by the police and I buy a T-shirt, and before I can wear that one, there's another kid [killed] and I'm running out of closet space."

But it goes beyond buying a T-shirt. Chappelle is active when it comes to giving back, especially to the school that helped him become the man he is today: the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., where the comedian recently gave the commencement address.


Chappelle's speech Saturday wasn't all about being serious. At the end of the day, Chappelle knows there's a balance between vocalizing your aggressions and frustrations with today's society and getting the downtime when you can just relax.

"I'm happy that I can sit at home on a Tuesday night and watch Key & Peele do my show and it doesn't hurt me," Chappelle joked.  


Now, that's some serious shade.

Share This Story