Dave Chappelle Explains His Gripe With Key & Peele

Dave Chappelle doesn’t believe he gets enough credit for changing the narrative and approach to sketch comedy. During his sit-down with Gayle King of CBS This Morning, the legendary comedian highlighted his career high and lows and his real gripe with fellow funny men Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key.

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“I was in this very successful place, but the emotional content of it didn’t feel anything like what I imagined success should feel like. It just didn’t feel right,” he said of the Chappelle’s Show quick take off with viewers in 2003. “Chappelle’s Show” like breakin’ up with a girl and you still like her. But in your mind, you’re like, ‘That b***h is crazy. I’m not goin’ back.” Over the years, Chappelle has kept things low-key, but hasn’t hidden his feelings about Key & Peele, Comedy Central’s most successful sketch comedy show since the ending of Chappelle’s Show in 2006.

Chappelle cleared the air about the comedians, who he’s dear fans of and explained his issue rests on the notion that the format he perfected goes uncredited. “I fought the network very hard so that those conventions could come to fruition,” he said. “So, like the first episode I do, that “Black-White Supremacist” sketch. And it’s like, ‘Well, that’s 10 minutes long. It should be five minutes long.’ Why should it be five minutes long? Like, these types of conventions. I fought very hard. So when I watch Key & Peele and I see they’re doing a format that I created, and at the end of the show, it says, ‘Created by Key & Peele,’ that hurts my feelings.

Key and Peele lasted five seasons, with the final helping the guys take home a Primetime Emmy for “Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.” The comedians were well aware of any comparison to Chappelle’s formula which is why they’ve sourced the comedian as an influence for years. Just before the start of the series’ fourth season, Peele told Global Grind about Chappelle’s impact on their work.

“We knew from the very beginning we had to do something different than Chappelle’s Show,” he said. “That show is such a monster. It’s a classic and it’s a big influence. But it turned out to be a positive for our show because we said, ‘We can’t do what could have been done seven years ago. We have to make these 2013-2014 sketches that we can only do now.’ That’s the power of sketches. You get to dedicate a contained budget, a contained amount of time, to an idea that you can have a little more whimsy on what you choose to talk about.” While both shows fixate on black characters within society’s very blurred standards, they play different roles in comedy. For now, Chappelle has turned his attention to living a reclusive life in Ohio and touring the country.

While both shows fixate on black characters within society’s very blurred standards, they play different roles in comedy. For now, Chappelle has turned his attention to living a reclusive life in Ohio and touring the country.

His highly-anticipated Netflix stand-up special will be available to stream Tuesday (March 21).

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