Teashade Reviews Vol. 3 ~ Chappelle's Show (Season 3 ~ The Lost Episodes)
After a two-year hiatus, Chappelle's Show returned in 2006 with a brief and limited three-episode run. There were many questions raised in regards to the shortened season - and, amidst wild rumours, season three saw Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy take over as the respective hosts of the series.
Dave Chappelle's absence from the show had been circulating in the rumour mill for a while before the third season aired. With the new hosts came a confirmation that at least some of the rumours were true - that Dave Chappelle had indeed left his own show.
However, regardless of the reasons behind it, season three of Chappelle's Show is still a season of content. Shortened significantly, yes, but still released commercially - and therefore eligible to be analyzed by my Teashade lens.
With Dave Chappelle's absence, how does season three stack up?
An Unexpected Change
Chappelle's Show's third season begins with Donnell Rawlings welcoming Dave Chappelle to the stage - albeit unsuccessfully. After a few moments, Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy ascend onto the stage and inform the audience of the unfortunate news - Dave Chappelle has left the show.
However, despite this, there are a myriad of sketches that both Dave Chappelle and his fellow co-writer Neal Brennan have made - and so, the new hosts more or less inform the audience that they'll be exploring these sketches with them over the next few episodes.
Right from the get-go, it's evident that Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy are quite anxious about their new roles - an understandable reaction to the large shoes they're filling. It's also hinted at during the three episode run that the two hosts have a bit of friction between them - most likely due to creative differences and pre-existing stress. This is more evident in the DVD extra 'The Fabulous Making of Chappelle's Show Season 3ish' for those of you with access to the DVD collection.
Despite these issues, Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy do a great job at entertaining the audience and keeping the feel of the show intact. I have to commend them for making the best of an unfortunate series of circumstances.
Old vs New
The third season of Chappelle's Show comes equipped with several new and entertaining sketches in a similar fashion to its two precursors. Despite the change of host, most of the sketches do contain Dave Chappelle in some form - having been pre-recorded before his departure from the show.
Episode one introduces Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy as the new hosts - with several sketches that poke fun at the current situation. These sketches include a quick ten-second skit where Donnell and Charlie ask co-writer Neal Brennan where Dave is and the 'Old Price' sketch - where Dave Chappelle's financial negotiations with Comedy Central are revealed to the public. The 'Old Price' sketch in particular pokes fun at how people change their attitude when they know someone is doing well off compared to them.
Two more new sketches were introduced in the episode. The first sketch was the 'Revenge' skit - a comedic sketch in which Dave Chappelle gets revenge against the people who wronged him or didn't believe in him in the past when he was still an unknown. The second sketch was a Tupac parody - in which Dave Chappelle is at the club dancing and the new 2pac record plays. As the song plays, the lyrics get progressively more accurate to current events - going so far as to even predicting a woman's clothing with a brown stain on her back and Dave Chappelle being present at the club and dancing with another woman instead of his wife. The sketch itself is meant to parody Tupac Shakur's financial success after his death - and also poke fun at the rumours that he's still alive and in hiding somewhere.
The only traditional styled sketch in episode one (and season three overall) is Chuck Taylor's return in the News3 sketch - who covers news about recurring character Tron getting attacked and injured by Method Man, one of the members of Wu Tang Clan. It was a welcome return for veteran fans of the first two seasons.
Celebrities & Stereotypes
Episode two focuses on several celebrities that have been in the news. Dave Chappelle first impersonates Democrat politician Howard Dean with his 'Byahh!' catchphrase. What originally started as a once-off expression of excitement is taken by Chappelle and made into a recurring joke over the course of the episode.
The second celebrity Chappelle impersonates is Gary Coleman - a famous actor from television show Diff'rent Strokes. This particular sketch pokes fun at an old incident from 1998 - in which Coleman was charged with assault whilst working as a security guard. Chappelle's sketch re-imagines the events in a humourous manner without painting Coleman in a negative light.
Dave Chappelle also has a few celebrity guest appearances in this episode - with Alf, Charles Barkley and Marla Gibbs appearing in fantasy scenes during Chappelle's 'TV Sex' sketch.
The most controversial sketch of the episode (and of the season) comes in the form of the 'Racial Pixie' skit - a segment that even Dave Chappelle was hesitant to show due to fear of backlash. In the segment, Dave Chappelle dresses up as a black, Hispanic, Asian and white pixie in five different scenarios in which racial stereotypes are addressed and made fun of. The black pixie, for example, tries to encourage Dave Chappelle to order the fried chicken as part of his lunch on board a flight. Whilst the segment wasn't too offensive (at least when compared to some old sketches such as Clayton Bigsby and the Niggar Family from earlier seasons), Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy invited live audience members to voice their opinions on the sketches. Whilst some people did bring up some valid concerns, the majority of folks understood and appreciated the purpose of the sketch and weren't offended by the pixies.
The third and final episode of Chappelle's Show's third season starts off with a segmented skit known as 'The Monsters'. The sketch sees Dave Chappelle, Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy as flatmates living in the same home. The skit itself addresses the issue of identifying and separating legitimate prejudice in society against egotistical victimisation. This is best defined in each of the character's scenarios - with Charlie Murphy's Frankenstein and his anger issues in the workplace, Donnell Rawling's Mummy and inability to arrive to his parole meetings on time and Dave Chappelle's Wolfman's refusal to wear pants in public settings.
Continuing on with the theme of addressing issues, the next sketch pokes fun at news reporters and journalism in general - specifically with their use of words such as 'minorities' when talking about different ethnic groups. The skit, known as the 'Say What You Mean' sketch, censors the political correctness and instead inserts the words everyone knows they're really thinking of saying in the reports. This extends to using repeated utterances of the n-word and f-word to somewhat humourous effect.
The last sketch of the episode is another segmented skit - as Dave Chappelle meets with the Show Business entity in Hollywood. Despite Chappelle's attempt at wanting to stay true to his goals and morals, the entity instead pitches several ideas of commercialising Chappelle's success. These take form in several mini-skits - including making Chappelle his own cereal brand, using the Lil' Jon character in a romantic comedy with Susan Sarandon and doing an episode of MTV Cribs at Chappelle's mansion.
Despite all three of these mini-skits being quite funny, Dave Chappelle turns down all three proposals and leaves Hollywood at the end of the sketch - ironically relevant to his departure from the show. More than anything, this sketch in particular rings true to Chappelle's ideology - and perhaps resonates the most with the unfortunate fate of the show.
After the sketch, Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy thank the audience for their time and bow out gracefully - as the curtains close on the third and final season of Chappelle's Show.
Overall, the third season of Chappelle's Show ends on a relatively good note. Despite the very short season, the quality of sketches for the show are still on par with the previous two seasons. It's just an unfortunate shame that there was not enough content to extend the season to a decent length - even six to ten episodes would have been enough to warrant a full season.
Donnell Rawlings and Charlie Murphy did a great job hosting the show - and whilst they lacked Chappelle's charm on stage, they made the most of their situation and were adequate and commendable hosts.
Whilst the sketches were good, there was sadly a significant lack of references from the past seasons in this one. There were a few cameos from previous characters but only one proper skit designated to them which was disappointing.
Ultimately, I've decided to award the third season of Chappelle's Show a 7 out of 10. Whilst the humour was on par with previous seasons, the lack of references and cameos from past characters coupled with the change in host and extremely limited syndication hurts the season overall.
It's a true shame that internal dramas affected the production of the third season as it had so much potential live up to and perhaps even surpass the previous seasons. But, as they say, life goes on. Chappelle's Show will always have a special place in the hearts of its audience - and will always be remembered fondly for its contributions to the comedy industry.
© 2017 Teashade Benu