Dave Chappelle paid tribute to Prince – the subject of one of the comedian’s greatest Chappelle’s Show sketches – during an early Friday morning set at San Francisco’s the Chapel venue. A mournful Chappelle took the stage at 2 a.m. and admitted to the crowd, “I almost thought about not coming tonight, but my band was like, ‘Yo, Prince would definitely not condone that.’ And now there is no place I’d rather be,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The four-hour set turned into a memorial of sorts for the Purple Rain icon as Chappelle’s backing band performed renditions of “Kiss” and “Nothing Compares 2 U.” With the venue bathed in purple light, Chappelle talked about his introduction to Prince’s music as well as his encounters with the singer.
Chappelle also revealed that he first learned of Prince’s death after being hounded by media inquires for comment; Chappelle forever immortalized Prince’s secret love of pancakes and basketball in a 2004 sketch that was based on an anecdote told by Eddie Murphy’s brother Charlie.
“I kept wondering all day, ‘Why are they calling me?,’ Chappelle said of the media inquiries. “I’ll tell you what: I didn’t know him well, but I knew him well.” The comedian added of the mood following Prince’s death, “This is black 9/11.” He noted, however, “It’s so much better that we grieve together.”
Chappelle’s Show cast member Donnell Rawlings told Billboard that Prince thought the sketch about him was “hilarious.” “I think [Chappelle and Prince] really built a friendship after that sketch,” Rawlings said.
Chappelle did issue a statement to WCCO CBS Minnesota, where the comedian commented Prince’s legacy as well as the artist’s impact on Minneapolis.
“As a city, they exported a musical giant. It says a lot about them that at the height of his fame he chose to stay in Minneapolis,” Chappelle said. “His admirers are a community that spans the globe. His legacy is an immense offering of music, love and laughter. And a fight for fairness to artist. Nothing of this world will begin to fill the void of his absence except his memory. Scientifically a memory is almost neurologically identical to an experience. So remember your loved ones often. Forget their faults and remember the best of what they made you feel. In that way… all of us are immortal gifts to one another that keeps on giving.”
Watch Chappelle’s Show‘s classic Prince sketch below: