For as long as can be remembered, Dave Chappelle has taken situations and provided somewhat of a comedic spin to them. The art was definitely not lost in his popular Comedy Central show Chappelle’s Show. Notable sketches such as “A Moment in The Life of Lil Jon” and the popular telling of the “Rick James Story” and encounters with Prince from comedian Charlie Murphy would fill households with laughter. One of Dave’s most popular sketches on the show, however, almost led to a physical altercation.
One of his famous sketches that fans remember, and also began to recirculate once the damning Lifetime docu-series Surviving R. Kelly aired, was a fictitious music video called “P*ss on you”. Originally aired in 2003 as part of Season 1, the sketch showed Chappelle playing the role of Kelly as he sings about the 2002 allegations that surrounded the “When A Woman’s Fed Up” singer.
According to comedian/actor and writer Neal Brennan, who was also co-creator of Chappelle’s Show, that particular parody led to threats by the R&B singer. “R. Kelly wanted to fight Dave,” Brennan said during an interview with The Breakfast Club. “Literally, his goons stepped to Dave in Chicago and Dave’s goons intervened. The goons negotiated,” he said, which brought on laughter from the hosts.
They went on to address the retroactive backlash that the clip also received, 15-plus years after its original airdate. Some folks on social media as well as culture critics like New York Times contributor Aisha Harris felt as though Chappelle’s sketch, as well as other parodies like the famous Boondocks episode (dedicated to the R. Kelly trial), were contributing factors to normalizing and making light of his alleged behavior.
Brennan disagreed with the opinions of those who felt that way and took the opportunity to explain the role of a comedian. “I don’t think people understand what comedy is supposed to do,” he said. “We will observe things, we will make fun of things. Did people want us to round up a posse and go arrest R. Kelly? Like, what were we supposed to do?”
He added, “Our job is to poke fun at things. And even if it’s bleak, we still poke fun at it. We were trying to humiliate a guy who was known for peeing.”
People were mad last week that we did an R. Kelly sketches 15 years ago. Here’s me explaining comedy to them. pic.twitter.com/FQoxIALqkr— Neal Brennan (@nealbrennan) January 15, 2019
Kelly once participated in an interview with GQ where he was asked about his feelings towards those that parody his life, namely Chappelle. The singer proceeded to act as if he was unaware of who Dave Chappelle but offered this in response. “First of all, I have no respect for a comedian when it comes to being serious. If you get that. That’s a joke.”
Chappelle further confirmed Brennan’s story while at a 2019 improv show in West Hollywood with his friend and fellow comedian Donnell Rawlings. Chappelle made claims that while at a Common concert in Chicago, Kelly’s goons approached him. However, he admitted things didn’t get physical as he was able to use his humor to diffuse the situation.