Throwback Thursday: Dave Chappelle in BUDDIES

Dave Chappelle and Christopher Garten in BUDDIES

Dave Chappelle and Christopher Garten in BUDDIES

The year was 1996. Dave Chappelle had made a name for himself as a young up and coming stand up comedian and was signed to a development deal with Touchstone Television and Disney Studios.

We met a few times before I directed him in my first television show and got along. BUDDIES originated from HOME IMPROVEMENT and ROSEANNE creator Matt Williams, who lured me to Hollywood from my career as a regional theatre director.

Even in that formative time, I recognized that Dave was a rare talent. Even though BUDDIES was a short lived show, working with him and helping him develop a feel for the medium of television was a rich and rewarding experience. We were both new to the form, and together I think we made a pretty good show, even though ratings never took off.

Now more than twenty years later, seeing Dave in command of his work and his aesthetic brings back some of great moments we shared on the set. His unique worldview and incisive comedy was apparent as he was still finding his voice, and I have to say some of the stuff he would throw at me off-camera was decidedly brilliant. Unfortunately some of his best stuff wasn’t suitable for prime time TV, but nevertheless stunned me with its originality. There was a Jeffrey Dahmer cannibalism bit he did for me once when we were hanging out that still horrifies me and makes me laugh today.

Dave is an American original, and I will always treasure the time we had together.