Dave Chappelle to Present Icon Honor at Canadian Screen Awards

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The comedy legend will honor Montreal's Just For Laughs festival for launching his career.

Dave Chappelle, who shot to fame with film roles in Half Baked and Dave Chappelle's Block Party, is set to honor the Just For Laughs comedy festival at the upcoming Canadian Screen Awards for launching his career.

The comedy powerhouse, fresh off his Saturday Night Live hosting debut, will present Just For Laughs with an Icon Award on March 12 in Toronto, 25 years after festival COO Bruce Hills discovered a young Chappelle while sorting through a stack of videos of wannabe comics late one night.

Hills told The Hollywood Reporter about a tape he saw, featuring yet another unknown comic standing on a typical comedy club stage against a brick wall, that caught his eye. "Nothing really popped out at me at first. That is, until he [Chappelle] started his set," Hills recalled.

The standup act revealed "that rare new, original voice we were looking for," Hills continued. He immediately booked Chappelle for a 1992 showcase in Montreal that "catapulted him to the comedy icon that is he is today," he said.

Appearances in recent years at Just For Laughs also helped Chappelle restart his career after he stepped away from his Comedy Central sketch series Chappelle's Show in 2005 and spent several years out of the public eye.

Chappelle, who recently signed a deal with Netflix for three new comedy specials, is one of a long line of standup greats to make their name at Just For Laughs, including Russell Peters, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart and Louis C.K.

Beth Janson, CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, said Chappelle flying up to Toronto to honor a Canadian festival that helps Los Angeles talent scouts and executives spot new comedic talent for Hollywood movies and TV series is a fitting tribute.

"We're often talking about people leaving Canada for the U.S. It's a two-way street with Just For Laughs, as we highlight someone like Dave Chappelle who's coming here to pay tribute to a Canadian institution," Janson said.

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