Fifteen years before “Surviving R. Kelly” brought the eponymous singer’s history of alleged sexual abuse back into the national spotlight, nearly every teenager across America was talking about R. Kelly because of “Chappelle’s Show.” On March 23, 2003, the Comedy Central series aired a mock music video titled “Piss On You,” which starred Chappelle as R. Kelly performing a song about the real R. Kelly’s 2002 legal troubles over allegedly urinating on an underage girl. The clip went viral and is often referenced as one of Chappelle’s most popular sketches.
“Chappelle’s Show” co-creator Neal Brennan recently appeared on the radio program “The Breakfast Club” and was asked about the sketch, which has been widely talked about in the wake of “Surviving R. Kelly.” According to Brennan, the R&B singer sent a clear message to Chappelle by threatening him.
“R. Kelly wanted to fight Dave,” Brennan said. “Literally, his goons stepped to Dave in Chicago and Dave’s goons intervened. The goons negotiated.”
The “Piss On You” sketch has been debated in the midst of “Surviving R. Kelly.” The Lifetime documentary series includes interviews with survivors of R. Kelly’s alleged abuse, many of whom say their stories had been told in the past but never taken seriously. Some culture critics, including Aisha Harris of The New York Times, cited the “Piss On You” music video as normalizing R. Kelly’s behavior and making light of his alleged behavior.
When asked whether or not this was true, Brennan replied strongly that it was not. “I don’t think people understand what comedy is supposed to do,” he said. “We will observe things, we will make fun of things. Did people want us to round up a posse and go arrest R. Kelly? Like, what were we supposed to do?”
“Our job is to poke fun at things.” Brennan concluded. “And even if it’s bleak, we still poke fun at it. We were trying to humiliate a guy who was known for peeing.”
“Chappelle’s Show” signed off the air in 2006 after running for three seasons. Watch a part of Brennan’s interview on “The Breakfast Club” in the video below.
People were mad last week that we did an R. Kelly sketches 15 years ago. Here’s me explaining comedy to them. pic.twitter.com/FQoxIALqkr
— Neal Brennan (@nealbrennan) January 15, 2019