Why Dave Chappelle Is The Best Candidate For The New 'Daily Show'
Dave Chappelle is not just a comedian; he's not just a movie star, either.
There's a special class of entertainer that straddles the line between these two occupations, but isn't really suited for either. Jon Stewart is this.
The same goes for Stephen Colbert and Louis C.K. Most late-night hosts, like Jay Leno, David Letterman, Seth Meyers and even Jimmy Fallon fit here, too. These people are suited for one thing over anything else: talking.
They can't really act, but they're too good for stand-up tours where they jet around the nation refining their hour of material until it achieves a mechanical perfection.
Most times, we sit these performers at a desk, ask them to tell us about events we missed, and have them interview someone interesting to close the show.
Other times, we give them a modest budget and half an hour, and see what type of skits and monologues they create to fill their time.
Dave Chappelle had this, but he went on his comedy sabbatical because we misused the gift he gave us.
When Chappelle's Show was at its apex, it was required viewing. His skits satirized our notions about people of all different races.
By showing us how ridiculous the stereotypes were, we were supposed to understand they were not true.
But, for some, that is not what happened. Things got so out of hand, when Dave performed stand-up or went out on the street, he was accosted by the bits he crafted.
We shouted, "I'm Rick James, bitch!" so many times, its meaning flipped.
Chapelle had attacked our misconceptions about other people, but he'd also unwittingly encouraged and strengthened the very ideas he'd sought to mock.
We started seeing each other through the lens he'd placed over our eyes, only, we were too dense to get the joke.
So, when Comedy Central offered him $50 million to continue his cable sketch show, Chappelle refused and dropped off the main stage.
It was clear he no longer wanted to be attached to what he had created. He'd set something loose that was out of his control, so he dropped the reins.
In the interim, Dave stayed busy. Part of the reason he left was to have a healthier environment for raising his family. His slender frame filled out with muscle. He matured and found a deeper conception of himself as a person.
When he returned, we smothered him like Lenny did his rabbit. We just loved him so much, and he'd disappeared so suddenly, having him back was too much for some crowds to handle.
In Hartford, when the audience wouldn't quiet down enough for him to perform, Chappelle left the stage after he fulfilled his contractual time obligation. The message was clear: If we wanted him to return, it would be on his terms.
Chappelle will likely never live down his show. People will still act obnoxiously towards him because he gave us so much. His stand-up sets always run the risk of devolving into the audience demanding he rehash his best skits.
What Chappelle needs is an environment in which he is taken seriously and he can control his audience -- what better place for him than the soon-to-be-vacated seat of "The Daily Show"?
Contrary to all expectations, "The Daily Show" is one of America's most trusted news shows. The 24-hour news cycle has doomed formerly legitimate networks to fluff up their material to entertain us with non-fiction all the live long day.
But, the time constraint of just over 20 minutes of "The Daily Show" ensures that only the choicest material gets broadcast.
Both sides would get what they want.
Chappelle would get the platform to talk about important issues. He could reinvent himself as the tie-wearing, truth-teller that sits behind a desk and breaks down the absurd, tragic and comic occurrences of the day.
We'd get Chappelle back, which may be more than we deserve.
But, most importantly, in this time of racial tension, when white cops are killing black people on camera, when incarceration rates look like Jim Crow, and when our news coverage is basically just people arguing, we need the right person to guide our discussion.
There's no one better than Chappelle. If he wants it.