According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the comedian hit the stage just after 2 a.m. Friday, less than 24 hours after Prince’s untimely passing, and he immediately addressed the news that was on his audience members’ minds.
“This is black 9/11,” he said of Prince’s passing. “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.”
Over the next four hours, Chappelle, 42, paid tribute to the late “Purple Rain” singer, recalling how his sister had first introduced him to the icon’s musical stylings.
The comedian also noted that when news broke that Prince had been found dead at his Paisley Park home, his own phone started lighting up.
“I kept wondering all day, ‘Why are they calling me?’” he said of the sudden attention. “I’ll tell you what: I didn’t know him well, but I knew him well.”
Chappelle’s tie to Prince is primarily via comedy — in 2004, the funnyman did a memorable impersonation of the Purple One for his sketch comedy series, Chappelle’s Show, in which Chappelle-as-Prince played basketball against Charlie Murphy and his pals.
The skit ended with Prince making pancakes for the group.
In 2013, Prince returned the favor by using an image of Chappelle-as-Prince for the cover of his single, “Breakfast Can Wait.”