Don't get your hopes up just yet, but the good news is that Dave Chappelle is back on U.S. soil. The AWOL comedian has been spotted several times in the past week in his hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and has seemingly ended his "spiritual" retreat in South Africa.
But that doesn't necessarily mean you'll see any new episodes of "Chappelle's Show" on Comedy Central this year.
"We have no update and I won't speculate on when the show might come back," Chappelle spokesperson Matt Labov said. As of Tuesday, Chappelle had no live engagements booked and Labov would not comment on whether he'd spoken to his client since the comedian abruptly halted production on his show in late April and decamped for South Africa, citing stress from working on the third season of the sketch-comedy program (see "Dave Chappelle Speaks: 'I'm Not Crazy; I'm Not Smoking Crack' ").
A spokesperson for Comedy Central said the channel plans to give Chappelle some time to "get his head together." Meanwhile, Chappelle's time slot will be filled by new episodes of "Reno 911!" and a new variety show from D.L. Hughley on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights called "Weekends at the D.L." "We still don't think it will be back this year, but we think it will eventually come back," channel spokesperson Tommy Mouscardy said.
Though his disappearance came as a surprise to Comedy Central and fans, Chappelle's re-emergence in the small Ohio town he calls home hasn't raised many eyebrows among the townspeople, who've gotten used to having a star in their midst.
"He was in here last week to buy cigarettes and he was in here again on Saturday," said Cyndee Perkins, manager of the Import House tobacco shop. "He talks to everyone, and everyone talks to him. We don't ask him [about his personal business] because we wanted to make sure he's OK and we didn't want to pry. I was glad to see he was enjoying the weather."
Perkins said Chappelle — who grew up in the Yellow Springs area and spends part of the year there on a farm on the outskirts of town — is a regular customer at the store when he's in town and that he's always "awesome" with people who recognize him and want to shake hands or get an autograph.