Civil Rights, Anger, and Courage:Dave Chappelle and Maya Angelou Iconoclast Episode

by / June 6, 2014 video 17 Comments

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Dave Chappelle is the wildly successful stand-up comedian who is most known for his sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central.  The beginning of Chappelle’s career was rocky.  He got booed off the stage at the famed Apollo Theater’s “Amateur Night,” and he played in a number of television pilots, but none of the shows were picked up as a series.  At one point, Chappelle even considered leaving the entertainment business.

After recording his first HBO special, Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly, in 2000, Chappelle finally catapulted into success in 2003 with the debut of Chappelle’s Show.  During production of the show’s third season, Chappelle shocked the industry and fans and walked away from a multi-million dollar contract.  Chappelle has made various stand up appearances since that time.

Chappelle is currently ranked No. 43 on Comedy Central’s “the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.”

In 2006, Chappelle participated in The Sundance Channel’s “Iconoclast” series, and he requested that he participate with famed writer, poet, and activist Maya Angelou.

The wisdom Angelou imparts during the pair’s conversation is priceless.  The two discuss a myriad of subjects including why Chappelle left Comedy Central, the power of laughter, and the creative process of a comedian versus and author.

One of the most powerful moments occurs when the two discuss Angelou’s relationship with Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King.  One of Angelou’s revered quotes comes from this conversation when she states that, “courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

The two also discuss the emotions of bitterness and anger during their conversation about the assassinations of a number of the country’s leaders during the 1960’s, including King and Malcolm X.  When Chappelle talks about being angry, Angelou reassures him that it is okay for him be angry, but not bitter.  She states: “Bittnerness is cancer – it eats upon the host.  It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure.”

 The following video is the first part of the Iconoclasts episode.  Angelou’s recent passing makes this conversation even more memorable.  Check out the video below to see two icons discuss their lives and share their knowledge and wisdom.  To see the full episode, click here.

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