Some 200 fans who attended this week’s Wednesday night CollegeHumor.com comedy show at the Hollywood Improv were treated to a performance by an unexpected guest: Dave Chappelle. According to a report posted at the humor website, the comic stunned the crowd merely by showing up, but he went on to do a 25-minute set, marking the first time he’s performed since dropping out of sight in late April, forcing a halt in production on the long-awaited third season of Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show. Though he didn’t have any material prepared — he said there weren’t too many comedy clubs where he could practice during his stay in South Africa — he kept the crowd laughing by riffing on topics suggested by the audience.
Before Wednesday, Chappelle’s only public statement since his disappearance had been his Time magazine interview, in which he cited the stress as the reason for his ”spiritual retreat” in South Africa. Later in the month, he returned home to his farm in Ohio. So it surprised fans to see him in Hollywood, where he joked about his disappearance. ”When I see people they pretend that they haven’t heard anything about this whole thing,” he said. ”Then I’ll say something like ‘I’m not crazy’ and then they’ll say ‘Oh yeah, that’s right. I read something about that.” He thanked the fans for making the Season 2 DVD of Chappelle’s Show, which went on sale last week, the fastest-selling TV series on DVD in history. ”Of course if I want to see any of that money I better get my ass back to work,” he said. Not that he was sure whether going back to Chappelle’s Show was what he would do next. But when an audience member suggested he make a sequel to his movie Half-Baked, he said, ”If I do Half-Baked 2, you’ll know I’ve run out of money.”