Funnyman Dave Chappelle is gearing up for his upcoming Radio City Music Hall shows by sitting down with some of late night’s talk show hosts. Last week, Chappelle opened up to David Letterman about leaving Chappelle’s Show, stating he never really quit, he’s just seven years late.
Chappelle continued his couch surfing Friday night with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. His discussion with Jimmy Fallon included his upcoming shows, as well as being mistaken for a member of The Roots. But there was one anecdote that got the crowd in an uproar. It was Chappelle’s story about the first time he met Kanye West. Probably because it’s such a Kanye-esque story.
West made his first television appearance courtesy of Chappelle when his episode aired in 2004. Although West was somewhat of an unknown, that didn’t stop him from acting as if he were the present day Yeezus.
“You could tell that he was going to be a star," the comedian said. "I didn’t know him until he did the show.”
It wasn’t West’s actual appearance that shocked Chappelle, it was what happened behind the scenes.
“It was like Muhammad Ali in Olympic Village, he just knew he was gonna get the gold,” Chappelle recalled. “It was the day Jay Z’s Black Album came out.”
Chappelle said Common, Kweli and West were listening to the album at Chappelle’s studio. On track 12 of the album (“Lucifer”), Jay says, “Kanyeezy, you’s a genius. You did it again!” At that point, Chappelle recalls, “Kanye stood up. First time he spoke all day, and he goes, ‘Stop the record! And rewind that.’”
Later, Chappelle invited the group to watch some unaired sketches, and he recounts overhearing the following exchange when West answered his phone.
“‘Hello? No, I can’t. Because I’m at the edit for the Dave Chappelle show, watching sketches that no one’s seen before.
‘Cause my life is dope, and I do dope s—t.’ And he hung up," Chappelle finishes.
As far as Chappelle’s own resurgence on the comedy scene, he says it’s been almost 10 years since he’s performed in New York.
“Definitely since I quit that, uh, you know what I mean. All that stuff that happened. I don’t go out much.”
Chappelle is performing at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall from June 18 to June 26.
Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.