Like many ultimately successful stand-up comedians, Dave Chappelle traveled a rather long road to superstardom. He began doing stand-up in the early ’90s, while still a teenager, before getting work in films like Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Eddie Murphy’s The Nutty Professor. As has become well known, Chappelle was also cast in multiple TV pilots during the decade, only one of which – a sitcom called Buddies – got picked up to series, before subsequently dying a quick and quiet death. Chappelle did at least begin building a small cult of followers via co-writing and starring in the 1998 stoner comedy Half Baked, which was a mild financial success at best.
Chappelle’s days of toiling in semi-obscurity abruptly ended in 2003, with the premiere of his Comedy Central sketch show Chappelle’s Show. A critical darling and a certified hit with audiences, Chappelle’s Show quickly grew into a full-fledged cultural phenomenon. In 2004, season 2 only increased Chappelle’s Show’s popularity, with characters and catchphrases from the series invading America’s everyday lexicon in a way comparable to legendarily quotable comedies like Austin Powers and Anchorman. Chappelle’s star seemed ready to continue rising, that is until he infamously left the show during production of season 3, walking away from a $50 million contract in the process.
Chappelle’s reasons for exiting from his Comedy Central series have been well-documented in the years since, so there’s no point in going into them here. Suffice to say that he was unhappy enough to turn down a staggering amount of money. While Chappelle continues to do stand-up tours, he’s kept his post-Show appearances on film and TV to a minimum. Which makes today’s news all the more surprising. Chappelle is set to return to sketch comedy next weekend, as host of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, per Deadline. This will mark the comedian’s first time ever hosting the venerable sketch series.
Continuing the “throwback” element of next weekend’s SNL, the musical guest will be A Tribe Called Quest, who are promoting the release of their first album since 1998. The episode itself was already sure to be a hot one even prior to the announcement of the host and musical guest, as it’ll be SNL’s first broadcast after the end of the seemingly eternal 2016 U.S. presidential election battle between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
As is usual for SNL, the series has mined the presidential campaign for mountains of material in the last few months, and is sure to try and send the two candidates out with a comedic bang. Of course, that’s all coming next weekend. As a reminder, those tuning into SNL this Saturday night will be treated to the debut hosting appearance of Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch, fresh off the theatrical premiere of Marvel Studios’ latest.
Saturday Night Live airs at 11:30 pm on NBC. Dave Chappelle hosts on November 12, 2016.