Dave Chappelle Speaks Out: 'I'm Not Crazy'
"I'm not crazy, I'm not smoking crack," he tells Time magazine in an interview more than a week after his hit Comedy Central Chappelle's Show was suspended and he disappeared, reportedly for parts unknown to even his agent and publicist – and leaving behind a wife and two children in Ohio.
"I'm definitely stressed out," said the 31-year-old comedian, who, in fact, escaped last month to Durban, South Africa, for a "spiritual retreat," as he called it.
"You hear so many voices jockeying for position in your mind that you want to make sure that you hear your own voice," he said. "So I figured, let me just cut myself off from everybody, take a minute and pull a Flintstone – stop a speeding car by using my bare feet as the brakes."
After Comedy Central announced that the planned May 31 debut of the third season of Chappelle's Show had been postponed (the network reportedly is paying him $50 million for two seasons of the show), Entertainment Weekly magazine said that Chappelle had voluntarily checked into a mental health facility in South Africa.
"I'm not in a mental facility," counters Chappelle, who also said he does not have a drug problem but had consulted a psychiatrist for one 40-minute visit.
He said he fled to be with friends in Durban because, despite its success, he wasn't happy with the direction of the show. "There's a lot of resistance to my opinions, so I decided, 'Let me remove myself from this situation,'" said Chappelle, who added that he would start up the show again, though he does not indicate when.
"If you don't have the right people around you, and you're moving at a million miles an hour, you can lose yourself," he said. "Everyone around me says, 'You're a genius, you're great, that's your voice,' but I'm not sure that they're right."
Countering Chappelle's claim about the show, Comedy Central president Doug Herzog tells Time that the star has "complete creative freedom." He has told staff he believes there won't be a Chappelle's Show in 2005, but leaves the option open for the comedian's return.