Apparently, the South African ”spiritual retreat” to which Dave Chappelle disappeared is over. Locals in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he and his family own a farmhouse, say they’ve spotted the elusive comic, whose sudden disappearance a month ago led Comedy Central to shelve the much-anticipated third season of Chappelle’s Show. ”He was just chilling and walking around with his friend,” Cole Lindemuth, an employee of Ye Old Trail Tavern told the Dayton Daily News last Thursday. ”He was in here last week to buy cigarettes and he was in here again on Saturday,” Import House tobacco shop manager Cyndee Perkins told the paper. ”He talks to everyone, and everyone talks to him. We don’t ask him [about his personal business] because we wanted to make sure he’s OK and we didn’t want to pry. I was glad to see he was enjoying the weather.”
Chappelle’s disappearance was the latest in a line of incidents that had delayed the filming of the long-awaited third season of Chappelle’s Show, after the first two seasons became such huge hits on cable and DVD that the network signed him to a $50 million contract extension. Two weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly broke the news that the vanished comic was seeking psychiatric help in South Africa. A few days later, he told Time magazine that he’d paid a single visit to a shrink but was otherwise visiting Durban on a ”spiritual retreat” and staying with a friend, a fellow Muslim. ”I’m not crazy. I’m not smoking crack. I’m definitely stressed out,” he told the magazine.
Chappelle’s return to the States doesn’t mean he’s ready to resume filming of the third season, of which he’s completed enough sketches to fill four or five episodes (but none of the intro material that he traditionally shoots before a studio audience). ”We have no update and I won’t speculate on when the show might come back,” Chappelle spokesperson Matt Labov told MTV News. Discussing the show, Comedy Central spokesman Tommy Mouscardy told MTV News, ”We still don’t think it will be back this year, but we think it will eventually come back.”