Dave Chappelle has been strongly associated with Prince ever since February of 2004, when Chappelle’s Show’s second installment of “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” introduced the world to the ongoing feud between the shirts and the blouses, and the ultimate indignity of being served pancakes by a fey musical genius who just took you and your friends to school. It’s not surprising then, that Chappelle—who was in San Francisco last night, for an extended run of stand-up shows—had some thoughts about the death of the musical superstar. But the comedian might have surprised audiences with the intensity of his reaction, turning his entire late show last night into an impromptu tribute to the man he once portrayed (and who used a picture of Chappelle in his Prince costume as the album art for a 2013 single).
“This is black 9/11,” Chappelle declared, standing on a stage that was lit with purple lights, while his house band played covers of the artist’s songs, occasionally accompanied by singer Martin Luther McCoy. “It’s so much better that we grieve together. ”
Chappelle also commented on the media reaction to Prince’s death, and the long-standing connection between himself and the Minnesota-born musician. “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.” He also mentioned that he’d considered simply canceling the night’s show, before deciding to transform it into a tribute. “I almost thought about not coming tonight, but my band was like, ‘Yo, Prince would definitely not condone that.’”