The picture he paints—and it seems a fairly honest and frank assessment— is of someone struggling to come to terms with a new position and power who's still figuring out how to come to grips with how people around him are reacting to the $50 million deal he signed last year with Comedy Central. Without naming specific characters, he seems to blame both some of his inner circle (not his family) and himself for the stresses created by last year's deal.
"There were things that overwhelmed me," he says. "But not in the way that people are saying. I haven't spent any of the money. All that stuff about partying and taking crack is not true. Why do I live on a farm in Ohio? To support my partying lifestyle?"
The problems, he says, started with his inner circle."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 says. "Everyone around me says, 'You're a genius!'; 'You're great!'; 'That's your voice!' But I'm not sure that they're right." And he stresses that Comedy Central was not part of the problem and put no more than normal television restrictions on what he could do.
"You got to be careful of the company you keep," Chappelle says. "It's hard to know how much to say. One of the things that happens when people make the leap from a certain amount of money to tens of millions of dollars is that the people around you dramatically change.
"During my ascent, I've seen other people go through that wall to become really big. They always said that fame didn't change them but that it changes the people around them. You always hear that but you never really understand it. But now that I'm there that makes a lot of sense and I'm learning what that means. You have to have people around you that you can trust and aren't just out for a meal ticket."
The breakdown in trust within his inner circle seems to have led him to question the material they were producing. He seems obsessed with making sure the material is good and honest and something that he will be proud. "I want to make sure I'm dancing and not shuffling," he says. "What ever decisions I make right now I'm going to have live with. Your soul is priceless." The first two seasons of his show "had a real spirit to them," he says. "I want to make sure whatever I do has spirit."
But Chappelle also says that he must share the blame for the stalled third season. "I'm admittedly a human being," he says. "I'm a difficult kind of dude." His earlier walkout during shooting "had a little psychological element to it. I have trust issues, things like that. I saw some stuff in myself that I just didn't dig. It's like when I brought a girl home to my mom and it looked as if my mom really didn't like this girl. And she told me, 'I like her just fine. I just don't like you around her.' That's how I feel in this situation. There were some things about myself that I didn't like. People got to take inventory from time to time. That's what this [coming to South Africa] is for."
I'm 100% sure he's not talking about Charlie Murphy, who's the other reason I was sad to hear Mr. Chappelle had stopped making the third season of Chappelle's Show. Come home soon, Dave.