Say what you want about Dave Chappelle. You can choose to hate him or love him. You can choose to be turned off by his brand of comedy or immensely intrigued by the stories he weaves together. Whatever you want to believe or say about him, one thing I see to be true, is that #DaveChappelle knows his purpose.
In the much hyped promotion of Chappelle’s Netflix Special, so many articles were written before and after. Most of them referencing his return to the spotlight after 12 years of walking away from his named comedy show, which was a $50 million deal during the height of his career. Many people were shocked and many still cannot understand how anyone, especially a young black man, could walk away from such a large sum of money. A sum that most of us will only ever be able to dream about in our deepest dreams. Yet, this is what Chappelle did because to him, money was not the final goal. Money was and is not his only measurement of success and money sure doesn’t rule him.
Chappelle should be admired because he has shown himself to be a man of great character that preserved the integrity of the gift given to him. I would dare say that if his father were alive, he would probably be very proud. As a young boy, he knew he wanted to be a comedian even if it meant only earning a teacher’s salary. He knew he was created to make people laugh. The fullness of his gift gave him the ability to write creative stories and jokes that show relevance to what’s going on in the world. Using his gift made room for him to be in front of Hollywood’s finest. His gift gave him the platform to have his own show which garnered him that $50 million so people could see more.
But unfortunately, as things will happen in life, we have an enemy that wishes to snatch us from our purpose and make us ineffective. Chappelle felt this pressure from Comedy Central. He stated in an interview that they wanted him to be something he was not and do things that weren’t authentic to who he was (and still is) as a comedian. Comedy Central wanted to manufacture Chappelle into what they wanted him to be. They were stifling his creativity and not allowing him to continue to use his gift in the way that got him there.
I completely understand why Chappelle would walk away. And to walk away from that amount of money causes me to respect him as a person even more. When you know what you’ve been born to do, or called to do, or know without a doubt what your purpose is, nothing will bring you peace unless you do just that. For those of us who know our purpose, we breathe it, we dream it, we live it, and we bleed it. To get paid for it is a tremendous blessing, but no amount of money can pay us to ignore it. Chappelle could not and would not ignore that voice inside of himself saying that he had to be true to what he knows he’s gifted to do.
Although the articles say that he has “returned”, the truth is that Chappelle never really left. As a person who knows he was born to be a comedian, he continued to do comedy in small venues in various places. He never stopped because stand-up comedy is in his blood. So even though it seems like it took 12 years for him to be back in the spotlight, Chappelle stayed consistent to his calling. And in the end, he got back more than what he walked away from. Let that be a lesson for us all. Even if you hit extremely hard times, stay true to who you are meant to be and you’ll end up in a more blessed place. We all need to find our true purpose and #beaboutsomething.