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Dave Chappelle Acceptance Speech | 2019 Mark Twain Prize

Jun 05, 2021
Thanks thanks! I like not knowing what is going to happen. I like to create memories. Sometimes I do all these crazy things with my colleagues just so they can tell their friends that I did it. Instead of talking about myself, I briefly want to talk about my genre, stand-up comedy is an incredibly American genre. I don't think any other country can produce so many comedians and, unbeknownst to many people in this audience, I don't think there is any opinion in this country that isn't represented in a comedy club by someone. Each and every one of you has a champion in the room.
dave chappelle acceptance speech 2019 mark twain prize
We see them fight but when we are together we talk about it! I know comics that are very racist, and I see them on stage and they're all laughing and I'm like, hmmm, that shit means that shit. Don't be angry with them, don't hate them. We went up and had a beer. Sometimes I even appreciate the artistry with which they paint their racist views. Man, it's not that serious. The First Amendment is first for a reason, the Second Amendment is just in case the first doesn't work. We gotta let some air out of the dance, man, the country is getting a little tight, it doesn't feel like it's ever felt in my life, so tonight I'm honored that my colleagues are here in comedy and music .
dave chappelle acceptance speech 2019 mark twain prize

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dave chappelle acceptance speech 2019 mark twain prize...

And I want everyone in America right now to look at me, look at me smoking indoors. I didn't ask anyone. I just did what they were going to do, kick me out before I got the


. No, this is called leverage. What I liked most about tonight was that I saw so many people from different parts of my life. life, like friends I grew up with here in DC, friends of mine from Ohio then and now, friends of mine from comedy clubs, all the musicians who blew me away, you have no idea how you inspired me.
dave chappelle acceptance speech 2019 mark twain prize
I want to give a special shout out to my OG Tony Woods. Miles Davis has a quote that is one of my favorites. Miles Davis said so many great things, but one of the things he said that I always loved is that it took me years to learn to play like me, you know he would. He would watch other musicians and then try to play like Dizzy or Bird, all the guys who were cool. Tony Woods was my Dizzy and my Bird, if I were Miles, he was trying to play like you, you were the first person I saw do it absolutely right, who feels us, and he told the truth.
dave chappelle acceptance speech 2019 mark twain prize
There is something so true about this genre when done correctly that I will fight anyone who stands in the way of a true practitioner of this art form, because I know you are wrong. This is the truth and you are obstructing it. I don't mean the content, I mean the art form. Do you understand? We have an agreement? And what I really wanted to say tonight and I'm glad I have the platform to do it: I'm gay! I'm gay and I can't wait to see what being gay like that means for my career. Many special thanks, one of the main architects of the turn of the century, my brother and my mentor, the mighty Stan Lathan.
I never dreamed he could work with someone as good as you. These last five specials... direct fire. I wouldn't want to do another special with anyone but you. So eat your mother's greens and live as long as you can because we're going to make some more of these. Neal Brennan, your


made me cry because it reminded me of all those hard days at work and all that. money I never received for it. The other really special thank you I have to say because none of this would have been possible on any level without this person is my mother.
Mom, my mother. Mom, mom, mom, mom. You have no idea when I put this woman through. If you had given birth to me, it would have been more than enough, but the fact that she raised me and raised me well. We had a real oral tradition in our house. I knew the word "griot" when I was little. A griot was a person in Africa tasked with maintaining village stories. Everyone would tell a griot of the stories and remember them all so they could tell them to future generations. When they got older, they would tell it to someone else and they would say that in Africa, when a griot dies it's like a library burning down, and my mother used to tell me before I thought about doing comedy, she said, "You should be a griot." ", and she filled me with every story of black life, you know, she has an education in African American studies and she let me understand the context in which I was raised.
I was raised in a hostile environment. that I have to tame. When I was 14, I was in nightclubs dominating the adult world. I was terrified. The crack epidemic was going on and my mom was hearing gunshots outside and she was scared to death, "Maybe it's my son," but early in my career, if you remember, Mom, you used to sit in the club with me. She would work a full day and you would go back there, falling asleep waiting for me to continue, she would watch my show every night. Do you know how long that car ride home is?
How many of you have ever heard his mother say, "There were too many shitty jokes tonight, son"? I was a soft kid, I was sensitive, I cry easily and I was afraid to get into fist fights and my mother used to tell me this thing, I don't even know if you remember, but you told me this more than once, you said: "Son, sometimes there are "You have to be a lion to be the lamb that you really are. I talked to this bastard like a lion. I'm not afraid of any of you when it comes word for word, I'll talk to the best so I can relax and be me.
And that's why I love my art form, because I understand every practitioner, whether I agree with them or not, I know where they're coming from, they want to be heard, they have something to say, there's something they noticed, I just want them to. understand me I love this genre. You saved my life, so tonight, mom, I would like to honor you in a very special way that I can't do alone, but since I am now a man with great and influential friends, I would like to ask my man Thundercat. To take the stage, Thundercat, the mighty Mos Def Washington, DC, thank you so much for giving me a home and a place to start.
Today is officially Dave Chappelle Day in Washington, DC, the mayor declared last night. So, in the future, on Dave Chappelle Day, I ask everyone who wants to celebrate him to create an amazing memory for themselves and/or someone else. Thank you very much good night.

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