The unfortunate passing of music icon Prince has led many to recall what exactly Prince meant to them. Millions across social media have shared their favorite Prince songs, and countless celebrities have shared stories of their encounters with the musical legend. Add Chappelle’s Show cast member and comedian Donnell Rawlings to the list.
As told to the Hollywood Reporter, Rawlings recalled meeting Prince at a Boston comedy club many years ago.
“Prince was at a Boston comedy club in the village, and I wanted to talk to him. There was just something about him. There wasn’t a spotlight or anything, but it just looked like he was perfectly lit, and his face was glowing. And he stared and I stared…. I’ve never been attracted to a guy in a blouse before, but for some reason that day, Prince looked attractive to me. And I was like ‘Donnell, shake it off. Don’t get caught up in the rapture of his eyes.’ And I think that’s why Prince wore shades so often because he knew, if he made eye contact with you, there could be some questions.”
Rawlings’ encounter with Prince is certainly a moment he’ll never forget, but he also says that he’ll also always remember being a part of the legendary sketch, “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories-Prince”, which first aired as part of Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central in 2004. The now-legendary sketch features Dave Chappelle playing Prince, who hosts Charlie Murphy and his group of friends, one of whom is played by Rawlings, at his home after a night at the club. Eventually, a game of basketball breaks out between Murphy’s group and Prince and the Revolution, an incident that Murphy says actually did happen in the mid-1980s.
Rawlings has hopes that the Prince sketch will help fans get through the sadness of the legendary artist’s passing, especially since he says that Prince himself absolutely loved it.
“He thought it was hilarious. And I think [Chappelle and Prince] really built a friendship after that sketch.”
The comedian also points out that Dave Chappelle actually approached Prince to play himself on the show, but Prince politely declined the offer.
“Dave wanted Prince to be in the sketch, and he asked him about it, and Prince told Dave, ‘Yeah, nah.’ And that’s true to Prince’s fashion with dialogue. You’ll probably never hear of Prince talking more than three sentences.”
To this day, Rawlings still laughs when he talks about the sketch, especially when discussing the hilarity of seeing Chappelle walk onto the set as Prince, especially since the six-foot-tall comedian is nearly a foot taller than the five-foot-two Prince.
“It was so funny…. It was a 6-foot Prince. Just to see him walk in, in that purple outfit with the blouse and wig — the entire set just lost their s**t.”
Rawlings also states that the 12-year-old sketch has become so popular and widely known that he thinks there are many people out there who actually got Prince confused with Dave Chappelle as the years passed, saying that somebody probably had to put a disclaimer out saying that it was Prince that had died and not Chappelle.
He’s just thrilled that he got to be a part of something that will forever be a part of Prince’s legacy.
“Prince is much larger than a sketch, but just showing what Chappelle’s Show did for the art form, when you mention Prince and his music, there is no way to get around that groundbreaking sketch.”
It’s likely that both Prince and the sketch about him won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]