No celebrity is as connected to Prince in the minds of the generation that came after the artist’s ’80s/’90s heyday than comedian Dave Chappelle. His 2004 Chappelle’s Show sketch, in which Chappelle played Prince while Charlie Murphy narrated the story of a game of shirts versus blouses basketball, was legendary, even for a show responsible for dozens of legendary comedy moments. Prince himself apparently even liked the sketch—he used Chappelle’s picture from the sketch as the cover art to his single, “Breakfast Can Wait.”
That’s why everyone was kind of waiting to see what Chappelle was going to say about the iconic musician’s death. At a stand-up comedy performance in San Francisco last night, Chappelle made it clear that he was definitely feeling the loss.
“This is black 9/11,” he told the audience. “I almost thought about not coming tonight, but my band was like, ‘Yo, Prince would definitely not condone that.”
What followed was reportedly a four-hour, impromptu tribute to Prince that included Chappelle’s band playing covers of many of his songs, between Chappelle talking about the musical genius and what he meant to the world. The venue was lit with purple lighting, and the marquee out front featured the opening lyric from “Let’s Go Crazy,” reading “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get thru this thing called life. – Prince.”
Chappelle noted that because of his Prince connection, he’d been dodging attention from the media the whole day.
“I kept wondering all day, ‘Why are they calling me?'” he said. “I’ll tell you what: I didn’t know him well, but I knew him well.”