Prince Loved When He Was Portrayed by Dave Chappelle
"Dave wanted Prince to be in the sketch, and he asked him about it, and Prince told Dave, 'Yeah, nah,' " remembers Donnell Rawlings.
One near-universally beloved Chappelle's Show sketch features Dave Chappelle playing Prince. It turns out that the legendary artist was also a huge fan.
Chappelle's Show castmember Donnell Rawlings tells The Hollywood Reporter he will never forget making the sketch, and he hopes it will help fans somewhat overcome their sadness.
"He thought it was hilarious," Rawlings says of Prince's reaction. "And I think [Chappelle and Prince] really built a friendship after that sketch."
The sketch, "Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories — Prince," first premiered Feb. 18, 2004, and featured Chappelle playing the music icon while Murphy reminisced about their actual crazy basketball game one night in the mid '80s. Rawlings played Murphy's buddy in the sketch.
"Dave wanted Prince to be in the sketch, and he asked him about it, and Prince told Dave, 'Yeah, nah,'" recalls Rawlings with a chuckle. "And that's true to Prince's fashion with dialogue. You'll probably never hear of Prince talking more than three sentences."
Rawlings contends that the sketch became so well-known and beloved, people got Chappelle and Prince confused.
"Some people think Dave Chappelle is Prince. I'm pretty sure someone had to put out some disclaimer saying, 'Dave Chappelle is not dead. Prince died,'" says Rawlings, laughing. "Prince is much larger than a sketch, but just showing what Chappelle's Show did for the art form, when you mention Prince and his music, there is no way to get around that groundbreaking sketch."
Rawlings remembers the first time he saw Chappelle dressed like Prince.
"It was so funny. … It was a 6-foot Prince," says Rawlings in hysterics. "Just to see him walk in, in that purple outfit with the blouse and wig — the entire set just lost their shit."
Rawlings met Prince once before, kind of, he says. It's a moment he'll never forget. "There's certain people, when you're in their presence, you just shut up."
"Prince was at a Boston comedy club in the village, and I wanted to talk to him," remembers Rawlings. "There was just something about him. There wasn't a spotlight or anything, but it just looked like he was perfectly lit, and his face was glowing. And he stared and I stared. … I've never been attracted to a guy in a blouse before, but for some reason that day, Prince looked attractive to me," says Rawlings, laughing. "And I was like 'Donnell, shake it off. Don't get caught up in the rapture of his eyes.' And I think that's why Prince wore shades so often because he knew, if he made eye contact with you, there could be some questions."
Chappelle and Prince are very much alike, says Rawlings.
"They both are original artists, and they weren't going to compromise to what Hollywood thought the norm was," he says. "And those are the type of people you remember for the rest of your life."
Rawlings says he is hurting like most of the globe over the news of Prince's passing, but he hopes the Chappelle's Show sketch will ease some fans' pain.
"The world we live in now, people come and go. … And I think it's awesome that the millennials and younger people may have gotten reintroduced to Prince through a comedy sketch."