Reclusive comedian Dave Chappelle, whose public performances have been few since his controversial departure from his Comedy Central "Chappelle's Show" in 2004, appeared Thursday during a Directors Guild of America tribute honoring three African American television directors.
Chappelle was one of the special guests honoring veteran director Stan Lathan, who has been one of Hollywood's most prolific directors for several decades.
Lathan currently directs and produces BET's "Real Husbands of Hollywood" and has also worked on numerous TV series, including "The Soul Man," "The Steve Harvey Show," "Sanford & Son," "Hill Street Blues" and "Roc."
Chappelle, joined by entrepreneur Russell Simmons and director John Singleton, praised Lathan for his role in launching, directing and producing "Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam" 1990, a raucous showcase for African American comics that aired on HBO.
The series has been credited for jump-starting the careers of several comics including Chappelle, Martin Lawrence, Katt Williams, Jamie Foxx and Mo'nique.
Chappelle noted that Lathan made the comedians look good on stage. "He also did this thing where you saw the comedian and the audience at the same time," he said. "That had never been done before."
He praised the show for helping black comedians, who had been mostly segregated, move into the mainstream. "I love you, Stan." he said.
Also honored in the ceremony, which was sponsored by the African American Steering Committee of the DGA, were Debbie Allen ("Fame") and Eric Laneuville ("St. Elsewhere").