Chappelle’s Show: The Lost Episodes Uncensored
August 2, 2006
Dave Chappelle produced two highly successful and very funny seasons of Chappelle’s Show, a sketch comedy show airing on Comedy Central. The series proved to be so popular that the powers that be offered Dave an extremely lucrative boost in salary. He set to work on production of a third season after numerous delays. Before he could finish however, Dave found the pressure to produce too much and left the show for South Africa. Three episodes were assembled from the completed work.
In an effort to keep fans of the show happy, a DVD with the three “Lost Episodes” has been released while Dave Chappelle gets his act together and cranks out another season. Fortunately, the show’s writers are savvy enough to admit as much in the first episode and even have a sketch poking fun at how rich and famous Dave has gotten since season two that escalates into a hilarious shoot-out at the offices of the IRS.
It is a testament to the show’s writers that the quality of these episodes is almost as good as anything in the first two seasons. Each one clocks in at a compact 20 minutes (approximately) and is hosted by Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings. This is a concentrated dose of Dave’s very funny brand of comedy fearlessness in making fun of cultural and societal taboos, exposing the hypocrisies that exist in our culture. He also isn’t afraid to make fun of himself and go after much deserved targets like politicians and Paris Hilton.
Since Saturday Night Live well, sucks, Chappelle’s Show has taken up the slack and takes more chances while still being funny. It dares to push the envelope of good taste without going too far. Dave exposes and satirizes racial stereotypes, most notoriously in a sketch where a black pixie appears to various people of different races. This sketch exposes the perpetuation of racial stereotypes that we all think about but Dave actually brings out in the open and addresses it. However, this sketch has been heavily censored since it aired on T.V. with some dialogue removed and other portions re-edited.
Dave’s sketches make you question your own inherent racism – how tolerant are we really? Are we racist without being conscious of it? The second episode even has Murphy and Rawlings asking the studio audience how they felt about the content with a nice mix of responses from various audience members. In the third episode, a sketch zeroes in on the word “minority” and what newscasters really mean when they use it. It’s funny because there is a lot of truth behind what Dave is saying in this sketch.
If there is some kind of overall theme to these episodes it is Dave wrestling with the pressures of fame and fortune. This is no more apparent than a sketch where he uses the all powerful Oz from The Wizard of Oz (1939) as a metaphor for the seductive yet dangerous allure of show business and how easily it is to get corrupted by the system. It does feel as if this “Lost Episodes” DVD reeks of desperation on Comedy Central’s part in an effort to wring the last bit of money from Dave’s show while it is on indefinite hiatus. It remains to be seen if Dave will finish season three so these episodes may be the last ones of this extremely popular series. Only time will tell.
There are audio commentaries for each episode by Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings. They crack a lot of jokes and talk about the fame the show has brought them. They touch upon the origins of some of the sketches in between the frequent lulls as they get caught up in watching the show. These are okay tracks but hardly essential listening.
Also included are five “Unaired Sketches” that are introduced by Murphy and Rawlings and feature a funny parody of those annoying Virgin mobile ads with Dave almost breaking character at the end.
There are deleted scenes that include Dave being overexposed in popular culture and selling out.
“Bloopers” features a collection of blown lines as Dave and other cast members break character.
“The Fabulous Making of Chappelle’s Show Season 3ish” is a parody of those VH1 specials that show you the Fabulous Life Of… complete with the same melodramatic voiceover narrator. Big surprise, Dave is a no-show but we do get a lot of riffing between Murphy and Rawlings.
Finally, there are musical performances by John Legend, singing “Ordinary People,” and Dead Prez’s doing “Hip Hop.”