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Dave Chappelle is a comedian whose Comedy Central show, Chappelle's Show, became a smash hit in the early 2000s.
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Dave Chappelle, who idolized the comedy of Bill Cosby as a young boy, is famous for racially provocative and envelope-pushing comedy.
Bernie Mac rose from the streets of Chicago to become a worldwide sensational comedian and actor.
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Dave Chappelle began making appearances in films such as Robin Hood: Men In Tights and Half Baked in the mid-1990s. In 2003, Chappelle landed his own show on Comedy Central, Chappelle's Show. He received two Emmy Award nominations for the wildly popular and controversial show, which frequently addressed race relations. In 2006, he abruptly quit the show and moved to a farm in Ohio.
Comedian and actor David Khari Webber Chappelle was born on August 24, 1973, in Washington, D.C. Chappelle's parents were both professors: His father, William, taught at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and his mother, Yvonne, worked as a professor at Howard University and then the University of Maryland, while also serving as a Unitarian minister. Chappelle's parents separated when Dave was 6 years old, and he subsequently began splitting time between his parents' homes in Wasington and Ohio.
Inspired by the sitcom The Cosby Show and its star, comedian Bill Cosby, Chappelle decided he, too, wanted to have a career as a comedian. As a high school student at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., Chappelle began a stand-up career. Because he was underage, his mother often had to accompany him to clubs as a legal guardian. Even at an early age, Chappelle's brand of humor was controversial, leading to frequent heckling—he was even booed offstage during amateur night at New York's famous Apollo Theatre.
Dave Chappelle decided to forgo college to start a stand-up career in New York City. By the early 1990s, he had begun earning accolades for his work in comedy. He made his film debut in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) and became the youngest comedian to be featured on the HBO special Comic Relief VI (1994).
Chappelle also began to make his way into television—getting his first in a series of TV deal that he would eventually be offered—at age 18. Of the several pilots that he shot, only one made it to the air: Buddies, a Disney-produced ABC series focused on two friends living in New York City. Unfortunately for Chappelle, the series was canceled after just four episodes, but his celebrity continued to grow thereafter.
Chappelle began making appearances in more films in the '90s with more significant parts. He starred in The Nutty Professor in 1996, alongside Eddie Murphy, and made his way into three popular films in 1998—Woo, You've Got Mail and Half Baked. The same year, Chappelle's father died, forcing the comedian to reevaluate his life. From there, he filmed the immensely popular comedy special Killin' Them Softly in 2000, followed by the film Undercover Brother in 2002. While his popularity continued to grow, he had yet to encounter the role that would catapult him to superstardom.
In 2003, Dave Chappelle landed his own show on the Comedy Central cable network, entitled Chappelle's Show. Chappelle received two Emmy Award nominations for the wildly popular and controversial show, which frequently addressed race relations and featured musical guests.
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From the early comedy of Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby to the contemporary routines of Steve Harvey, Mo'Nique, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes and Dave Chappelle, black comedians have often used their wit to become the voice and face of the African-American experience. These legendary comedians have also set a very high bar—not only for African Americans, but for all comics trying to make it in show business. Learn more about these famous jokesters, from their early days to their comic beginnings, to their side-splitting performances and more.
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