July 20th, 2007
11:20 AM ET
9 years ago

Dave Chappelle: Next White House press secretary?

Chappelle told CNN’s Ed Henry his favorite part of the Bush presidency is “the nicknames.”

From CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry

WASHINGTON (CNN) - One of the best parts of the White House beat is that you just never know who's going to show up at those black iron gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

There was the time I bumped into St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa wearing a business suit in the West Wing - he looked so odd without a ballcap and uniform but was a really nice guy. Or that night a couple of weeks back when I was heading to a live shot on the North Lawn and ran into Bo Derek arriving for a tour. (Let's just say she's still a "10," ok?)

And then there was this morning: Who knew I'd run into the comedian Dave Chappelle, just a couple days after he was hospitalized for exhaustion?

As I arrived at the White House by foot, I noticed a small group of Secret Service officers gathered around a man with a black backpack but didn't think too much of it. People with backpacks somewhat routinely show up at the White House gates saying they have an appointment with the president, when they really do not. Thankfully, the backpacks are usually just full of harmless literature about the individual's pet cause. The Secret Service may take a brochure about Power Yoga or something, and the individual goes on his merry way without incident.

But as I headed through the screening machine in the Secret Service's security shack, I overheard someone say, "Hey, that's Dave Chappelle out there. That's Dave Chappelle, I'm telling you."

"No way," I said. "Isn't he in the hospital?"

But then I spun around and looked through the glass of the security shack to find a guy who indeed looked exactly like Chappelle. I couldn't resist chasing a story - even a non-political one - so I grabbed my backpack and headed back to the street.

A man was standing at the gate asking Chappelle, "Are you who I think you are?"

Chappelle scrunched his face into that familiar pose and declared: "And who do you think I am?"

Confirmed - it was him. So I introduced myself and started walking with Chappelle toward the Treasury Department.

Chappelle looked healthy in a pair of black athletic pants and matching polo shirt. But there was a solitary cigarette with a lighter cupped delicately in his left hand as he walked casually, politely stopping at one point so that he did not step in the way of a tourist snapping a photo of her family in front of the North Portico of the White House.

I asked what he was doing in Washington. "I'm just taking a stroll from Georgetown to the Hill," he said, reminding me that he hails from Washington, his time in the city being one of the funnier riffs on his show.

Chappelle said he was feeling good and then asked me a question about covering the White House. "Has the president given you a nickname?" he asked.

Believe it or not, this is a frequent query because the president used to hand out nicknames to reporters like "Stretch" to a tall guy and "Super Stretch" to an even taller correspondent. But that's sooooo 2001 - I started covering Mr. Bush in the second term so I never got one.

"Oh," Chappelle cracked. "That's my favorite part of the Bush presidency - the nicknames."

Since Chappelle made international headlines in 2005 by essentially disappearing for awhile under strange circumstances - and walking away from a $50 million deal to continue his show on Comedy Central - I asked what he's doing next.

"I want your job,” he said, explaining that it’s fun to watch reporters go back-and-forth with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

"Or maybe I'll take Tony Snow's job," Chappelle smiled. "I think that's a cool job."

Neither Tony nor I get $50 million. But we both have great jobs - plus you never know who you'll run into next around here.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Will, Atlanta

    No, I'm not kidding! This story was let out to keep your mind off of the important issues while your subverted government does the bidding of foreign powers (and I'm not referring to cave-dwellers in Afghanistan or Iraq)! You all were fooled like no other, and should have spent your time researching the birth and death of nations. Unfortunately, most Americans think research is something you do when you look in the same place twice for those lost car keys! Yes ignorance is bliss, until your DEAD because of it! Take it from me, a REAL American Patriot who knows subversion when I see it! The America that you once knew is long gone! Now, lets see if this comment makes it online like the Mike Vick comment did!

    July 20, 2007 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  2. Jeff, Alexandria VA

    I hate the nicknames Bush gave to reporters (stretch, super stretch)...I am 6'7" tall and I find them offensive. Let me tell you why; Bush's ego is out of control. He controls people with his nicknames and reminds me of a lot of people I know that throw nicknames around as a way of dressing down someone. Bush is no different...All I can say is that I have never had a close friend call me stretch, Kramer, etc. It is only the fake friends that do this - and George W. Bush is the most falsified friend anyone on this earth can have. He will stab you in the back the second you turn it.

    July 20, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  3. Hakim, Boston MA

    They should make a reality show about Chappelle's life, although I'm a little worried about these bouts of exhaustion that he deals with...

    July 20, 2007 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  4. New York City, NY

    Wow – so you, uh, briefly met Dave Chapelle at the White House... and wrote two pages about it.

    The 'new media' strikes again....

    July 20, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. Tracy G Cincinnati Ohio

    Dave Chappelle working in the Bush admistration. I gave this a lot of thought, and came to the conclusion that Bush is a big enough joke without Dave Chappelle wasting his talents.

    Dave, you are much to competent to work for such a joker!!!!!

    July 20, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. Danny, Austin, TX

    Way to try to create a story where there is none.

    July 20, 2007 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Trish, Washington, DC

    Let's have a celebration! Where's Darkness? – Ha!

    July 20, 2007 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. C Monster, New York New York

    Wow imagine Chappelle as the mouthpiece of an administration. Perhaps we'd finally get the truth and not euphemistic and socially charming brush offs. And then he'd get fired.

    July 20, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  9. Franco, Anchorville, MI

    Are u a Pot smoker Faulker... That is a terrible idea! People who doand talk about drugs so freely should not be in a postion that kids could look up to as role models... Thats why the NFL should give a M.Vick an immediate suspension, until the case proves he is innocent... Sorry, dog fighting is very cruel. And is not what people should be talking about when they talk about the NFL....

    July 20, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. C. Ennenn Izlame

    THis article would have not had any less merit had it begun...

    "Liek OMG,! Today, we were walking into the White House, ya knoew , cause I like work there. ANd OMG! can you believe we saw Dave Chapelle there? OMG!"

    "Yeah, he was sporing all black, and like this black back pack, oh an dhe's so like SMART! He knows how to go from one place to another in DC! He so cool!"

    I like Dave Chapelle. Stop trying to associate his coolness with Bush's criminal presidency and criminal administration.


    July 20, 2007 09:54 am at 9:54 am |


    July 20, 2007 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. Daniel J. Philbin, Cathedral City, California

    President Bush, "[o]ur planet's most prolific killer"? How about AIDs, Hunger, Terrorism, Natural Catastrophy Fallout, Mutating Killer Viruses and Germs, Kim Jong il... Cheer up! There's a whole world of killers out for you!

    July 20, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  13. Christopher, Queens N.Y.

    I 'm a huge admirer of Dave Chappelle. It's good to hear that he's doing well. But i mean c'mon. As a reporter, is this the best you can do with an interview with one of the grestest comedians of our time? How disappointing.

    July 20, 2007 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  14. jason irvington NJ

    gotta love dave chapelle.. the man has character and is a free spirit in deed


    check out

    July 20, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. T-Bone

    Well, if he can somehow put Michael Vick (the dog murderer and dog abuser) in jail, then he's got my vote! (well, we might have to agree on just a few other issues as well 😉

    July 20, 2007 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. Jim, New York City, NY

    CNN-Corporate Nothing Network. We'll have you to thank for keeping us stupid when Bush initiates his latest and greatest terror attack on the US. Can you say Marshall Law, Internment, Asset seizure. Enough! Impeach Now and take the fake news outlets with you.

    July 20, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  17. Luke Skywalker, Alderon, MN

    I like Helen Thomas's reporting much better. But she looks like Jabba the Hut.

    July 20, 2007 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. T-Bone

    HEY BEN - one doesn't have to be convicted to get a suspension, moron! People have been "suspended" for much less than this. I'm not askiing for them to release this fool until he's gone through his due process. But do something! SUSPEND SUSPEND SUSPEND! Dave Chapelle help us suspend this fool!

    July 20, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. Jack, Newport News VA

    Dave for president. He has more answers to America problems than the entire Executive Branch.

    So many comments couldn't read them all.

    July 20, 2007 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  20. Caleb, Kansas City, Missouri

    Dave Chapelle's comedy is incredibly stupid.

    July 20, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  21. Gabriel, Los Angeles CA

    "What candy coated treatment you are giving to criminal bush. You pick the one good thing chapelle has to say. Why don’t you print the other opinions mr. chapelle has to say about our planets most prolific killer. Er I mean Team Bush."

    Mike you are a sick sick ignorant man to think that Bush is the most prolific killer of all time!!

    July 20, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  22. Anonymous

    I love you Johnnycakes!

    July 20, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. Stephen, Yellow Springs, Ohio

    Areicans? Is this story/post some kind of Joke? How about some content? I don't see the political aspect of this story. Leave this type of story to the prettier talking heads on Showbiz tonight.

    July 20, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. emiliano castro

    dear ed. Maybe its time you come to L.A.
    There's lots of celeberties!
    You might even get someone's autograph.

    July 20, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. Sean, Los Angeles, CA

    useless filler of perfectly good space on CNNs website

    July 20, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
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