But he chose not to, and instead turned a four-hour set into a set of remembrances of and riffs on the pop icon’s decades-spanning legacy.
“This is black 9/11,” Chappelle told the audience after taking the stage about 2 a.m., according to the Chronicle (via Vulture).
“It’s so much better that we grieve together,” he said.
Chappelle admitted that “I almost thought about not coming tonight, but my band was like, ‘Yo, Prince would definitely not condone that.’ And now there is no place I’d rather be.”
The comedian, 42, said he only learned of Prince’s passing after media outlets began calling him for comment, according to the Chronicle. “I’ll tell you what: I didn’t know him well, but I knew him well,” he said.
Indeed, the two had an interesting relationship, sparked in some ways when Chappelle did an impersonation of Prince for a now-infamous Chappelle’s Show skit.
Prince did Chappelle one better, years later, when he used an image of Chappelle in his Prince garb as the cover for for his 2013 single “Breakfast Can Wait.”
As Chappelle’s Show cast member Donnell Rawlings told The Hollywood Reporter of Prince’s reaction to that skit, “He thought it was hilarious. And I think [Chappelle and Prince] really built a friendship after that sketch.”