Making movies seems like a dream job. Sure, there's that pesky loss-of-privacy thing, but it's got to be better than database entry or bookkeeping, or, well, anything else. But for David Chappelle, making movies is almost like a nine-to-five job. It simply allows him the funds and the time to pursue stand-up comedy. "I've always wanted to be a comedian," he insists. "I know that's a pretty crazy thing to say." But it does explain why Chappelle began performing in clubs at the age of 14 -- which was only, like, 12 years ago. Since then, he has appeared in a TV series called Buddies (a failed Home Improvement spin-off) and 16 films, including Con Air, You've Got Mail, The Nutty Professor, 200 Cigarettes, Blue Streak, and last year's stoner comedy Half Baked, which he also co-wrote.
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"In two years, I will have spent half my life doing stand-up," Chappelle says from his New York home. "I will have spent as much time doing comedy as I haven't been doing it, and I'm just getting to appreciate that. When you're young and people tell you they can't believe you're doing it, you just think 'Ahh, whatever.' I mean, you're young, you don't care. But now I understand.
Chappelle has just finished work on Foolproof, a film with Norm Macdonald and Danny DeVito. The script, penned by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. Larry Flynt and That Darn Cat), was originally intended for Redd Foxx and Robin Harris, who were too dead to make it. But Chappelle's next project is King of the Park, a film about his mentor Charlie Barnett, the late New York City street comedian who was a regular guest on Miami Vice. Chappelle's been working on the film for several years and will begin shooting it this summer. "I've been doing things this year that I'm really passionate about," he says.
And though he's excited about the film projects, Chappelle's almost giddy about hitting the road again. "I'm incredibly glad to be back on tour," he says. "I can't tell you how glad I am." Of course, money isn't the only perk from doing movies; it also means more exposure for tours such as these. "Movies make doing comedy more fun," he explains. "People actually come out to see the show. They recognize my name from movies. They expect to see a movie guy trying to do comedy, but I'm really just a comedy guy trying to do movies."