By Noah Kaufman
June 22, 2017
© Chad Batka/Corbis

Dave Chappelle continued his climb back into public life on Sunday, when he made an unannounced appearance at the 20th annual Essence Festival with Erykah Badu. Chappelle introduced Badu before her set at the Superdome to a crowd of 45,000 happily surprised fans. Perhaps those fans could have seen this coming: The two just finished a run at Radio City Music Hall, selling out 10 straight nights of shows together in Chappelle’s first performances since his mysterious exit from show business in 2005.

Since his return, he hasn’t talked much about what made him walk away from a reported $50 million TV deal nine years ago. But it doesn’t seem to matter much to his fans: He probably could have easily sold out a dozen more shows at Radio City.

In a backstage video after Badu’s set, Chappelle offers his thoughts on his triumphant return, working with Badu and the fact that he is finally comfortable being back in the spotlight.

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