Mark Twain Prize


District of Chappelle

Dave Chappelle's roots in Washington D.C. run deep, cutting his teeth at the DC Improv while still in high school. Explore Chappelle's impact on the local comedy scene and how growing up in the nation's capital helped craft his trademark wit and sharp, irreverent social commentary. Featuring comedians Tony Woods, Donnell Rawlings, Joe Clair, Martin Amini, and Mo Amer.

AIRED: January 06, 2020 | 0:05:43

- I was honestly just trying to find out

why he was given the Mark Twain Prize.

I mean, the guy has done nothing with his life.

But you know, fine.

You wanna give it to somebody that just been doing

stand-up since they were 14 and Mel Brooks loved him,

put him in "Robin Hood: Men In Tights"

and see my man?

See, this is probably Dave in the helicopter right now.

He doesn't want you guys to know the truth!

(funky hip hop music)

- He's our Jay-Z in the comedy community, man.

- He's doing things that you not supposed

to be able to do as a comic.

- He's entertained so many people for so long.

- One of the most humble people I've ever met.

Always has time to make everybody feel good.

- To me, he's on the Rushmore of stand up comedy.

He's one of the most inspiring human beings I know.

- 'Cause y'all know me and Dave

known each other for a long time.

I knew Dave when he was a little baby.

In comedy, I guess I just adopted him as my little brother.

His enthusiasm was through the roof.

- When I started comedy, Dave probably had two years on me.

And he was the hot dude coming outta D.C.

And one thing about coming from D.C.,

when someone leaves, you like,

oh, he made it just because he left home.

And before I moved to New York, I would ask,

who left, who's in New York, who's popping?

They was like, Dave Chappelle.

- And he's coming behind Martin Lawrence,

who's a superstar at the time.

- You got so many good comics that come through here

and you learn from that.

- And you can see, even now in the new generation,

the influence that they had on us.

(upbeat funky music)

Something about D.C. comics, man.

We're very good at telling stories.

- We pride ourself in how much time we can do.

You know what I mean?

You get three minutes, oh, I got three minutes.

I got five minutes, I got seven.

I got 10, I did 20 in my sleep, I did 45.

- I think a lot of it has to do with the fact

that we're in this melting pot of all different types

of personalities and cultures and career paths.

- It's Washington D.C., it's the seat

of power for the world.

When people come to D.C.,

they get an eye-opening experience.

You mean that there is racism and

rich minorities?

- D.C. was known as Chocolate City.

Other places, being black meant

being poor, being in the hood.

And I was like, well, in D.C.,

from the guy who asks you for change on the street

to the mayor, and everybody in between, is black.

- And being around that environment

has gotta be super inspiring, and to put this kid

in this situation with the climate it is at that time,

he probably wouldn't wanna have started anywhere else.

- What's up, D.C.?

(audience cheers)

Just his knowledge of the world and events and everything.

You're like, where did you get your PhD from?

And his PhD is from life and experiences.

- It's Dave's take that's the most original and unique.

- And he's gonna say, mm.

What about that guy over there

who doesn't look anything like me?

How does he look at the same #*##*# that I'm looking at?

How's it smell to him?

And like, boom, boom, boom, he breaks all of that down.

- He hits everybody.

Every race, every gender, every topic.

- Most comedians, what makes you laugh

is what we kinda focus on.

But he kinda focus on whatever's bothering him,

bothering you, because at the end of the day,

we're all human beings, we're all living on planet Earth.

- And he's the most honest person in the room.

And he doesn't mind saying it out loud

and he articulates it in a way

where everyone can understand.

And more importantly, he just smashes with it,

it makes it hilarious, and that's what makes him him.

That's what makes Dave him.

- And he just have a voice that people wanna listen to.

It's one thing to be funny, but it's another thing

to have a voice where you could lead.

(upbeat rhythmic music)

- Dave Chappelle getting the Mark Twain award,

I think is monumental, man.

'Cause you look at the roster of people

who've received it before him,

Dave Chappelle should be up there.

- I love it because (laughs) I would love to hear

what Mark Twain had to say, who won? (laughs)

But Mark Twain was like, he like Dave,

he kinda told it like it was, you know what I'm saying?

And I think he's very deserving of it.

- I felt like it's one of us getting it.

I feel like how Jay-Z always talks about

one of us is in there, I feel like, man.

Way to go, man, way to go, Dave Chappelle.

Go kill 'em and don't stop.

- It's really amazing to see

somebody paint in real time, you know?

And he's one of my greatest mentors,

probably my greatest mentor in stand-up.

And I'm completely grateful and he deserves 10 of these.

- When it comes to the Mark Twain Prize for Humor,

I don't think, in this generation, there's anybody

that's even close

to his voice.

But not only that,

that in their comedy career, stood for something.

- And congratulations on the Mark Twain award

and everything else, man.

God bless you, brother, all right?

My man's and them.

(upbeat rhythmic music)


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