12/06/2005 at 08:00 AM EST
Peripatetic comedian Dave Chappelle is coming back to Comedy Central – sort of.
Four episodes' worth of sketches he filmed for the third season of his Chappelle's Show before his startling exit to South Africa last April ("I'm definitely stressed out," he told Time magazine shortly after his getaway to a "spiritual retreat") will be aired on the cable network in weekly showings next April, May or June, Comedy Central has announced.
A 2 1/2-minute preview of this never-before-seen footage will be included in Comedy Central's Last Laugh '05 special, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, the Associated Press reports.
Still to be determined is how the sketches will be packaged, since Chappelle, 32, never shot any on-stage introductions. A full season would have been between 10 and 13 episodes.
"It's great material, and we think our audience is hungry for it," said Comedy Central President Doug Herzog, noting that the last original episode of "Chappelle's Show" aired in May 2004.
As for bringing back Chappelle, who reportedly was awarded a $50 million contract for a third and fourth season, Herzog said: "We had reached out several times to Dave's camp and asked, 'What would you like to do?' But we never received a definitive response. ... We thought it was time to start unearthing the material we had."
Speaking to The Washington Post, Carla Sims, the spokeswoman for Chappelle (who has returned to standup), said: "Comedy Central is not going to obtain Dave's return by releasing material that he has not approved or that doesn't meet his standards."
On the other hand, she added: "Flowers still work."