Dave Chappelle unpacking Hollywood’s ‘sickness’ goes viral after Britney Spears documentary

Maggie Baska
·4-min read

A clip of comedian Dave Chappelle explaining that celebrities aren’t crazy – rather, Hollywood is “sick” – has taken on a new light in the wake of the Framing Britney Spears documentary.

The actor and comedian spoke with James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio in 2006. During the interview, Chappelle shared insights on the dismissive and “sick” culture within Hollywood, which allowed for many celebrities to be dismissed as being “crazy”.

He spoke about how destructive Hollywood culture can be, and used a 1996 incident where Bad Boys star Martin Lawrence’s 1996 ran into the streets of Los Angeles with a loaded gun as an example.

Chappelle said Lawrence “made me feel inspired” any time that he was successful, but there was a dark side to his success. He explained that Lawrence had a stroke and almost died while the pair were promoting their movie Blue Streak. After that, Chappelle said Lawrence told him “I got the best sleep I ever got in my life” as a result of being hospitalised.

He continued: “So let me ask you this: What is happening in Hollywood that a guy that tough will be on the street, waving a gun, screaming ‘they are trying to kill me’?

“What’s going on? Why is Dave Chappelle going to Africa?

“Why is Mariah Carey making a $100m deal and then taking her clothes off on TRL?

“A weak person cannot get to sit here and talk to you – ain’t no weak people talking to you.

“So what is happening in Hollywood? Nobody knows.

“The worst thing to call somebody is crazy. It’s dismissive.

“I don’t understand this person so they’re crazy. That’s bulls**t.

“People are not crazy, they’re strong people. Maybe the environment is a little sick.”

Dave Chappelle clip has taken on new life in the wake of Framing Britney Spears.

Framing Britney Spears, the latest instalment of The New York Times Presents series is a heartbreaking but vital watch. And while Britney Spears herself isn’t directly involved, an array of interviews and footage help contextualise her career, her conservatorship and the misogyny in the media at large.

In scrutinising the media’s relentless focus on Spears’ body, sex life and mental health, the documentary ignited a fresh wave of criticism against the way the press and public treat women.

Some media personalities have even owned up to the roles they placed in the musician’s downfall since it aired, while the film’s scathing portrayal of her ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake prompted him to publicly apologise.

Now, the Dave Chappelle segment is being viewed in a different light as the celebrity and comedian shed his insights on the toxicity of Hollywood and stardom in his own experiences. One person on Twitter wrote that they were watching Framing Britney Spears, and the Chappelle quote “always been stuck in my head whenever I see situations like this”.

Someone in the comments said the episode “changed my outlook on celebrity and even my views on mental health”. They said the interview “changed how I saw behaviour being displayed for more than face value”.

Chappelle also felt the pressures from Hollywood

In 2005, Dave Chappelle stunned fans and the entertainment industry when he abruptly left the production of the insanely popular Chappelle’s Show and took a trip to South Africa. He said that he was unhappy with the direction the show had taken and expressed his need for time to reflect on the tremendous stress of being in the limelight.

Chappelle’s decision to quit the show meant walking away from his $50m contract with Comedy Central. Tabloids at the time speculated that Chappelle’s exit was driven by drug addiction or mental health problems.

Chappelle has returned to the stage since then. In August 2019, he came under fire for making fun of trans people in a Netflix stand-up special. Trans people “hate my fucking guts and I don’t blame them” Chappelle said in Sticks & Stones, adding that he “can’t stop writing jokes” about the trans community.