Wayne Brady on Why He Still Thinks Paul Mooney's ‘Chappelle’s Show’ Joke About Him Was ‘Wack’

Brady gave a breakdown of how he sees his legacy, including its impact on younger generations of Black creatives. He also looked back on 'Chappelle's Show.'

View this video on YouTube


Wayne Brady went deep on his legacy during a new interview with the Breakfast Club, including a reflection on a Chappelle’s Show joke that he still considers “wack” to this day.

Detailing what he sees as his impact on the industry, and how that impact has helped the careers of other Black creatives, Brady pointed to having been responsible for “so many firsts” in the industry.

“I understand my place in entertainment,” the Whose Line Is It Anyway? all-star said around 26 minutes into the 46-minute discussion. “If you look up, I’ve done so many firsts. I’ve broken through walls and doors so that there are cats behind me now, like a Donald Glover and cats that are huge global successes. But I’ll challenge you and say that there are certain things that some of these cats—even Key and Peele and other Black dudes or Steve Harvey on the game shows—that I was in that space first.”

The 49-year-old added that he “made it okay” to be in such spaces, then pointed out that some of the same people who mocked him at the time ended up doing similar TV endeavors. “You’re welcome,” he said. “I love that.”

Closer to the 27-minute mark, Brady was asked if he was surprised when Dave Chappelle reached out to him about working on a classic Chappelle’s Show sketch, prompting the Emmy winner to reflect on both his longtime appreciation for Chappelle’s work and a certain joke from the late Paul Mooney.

View this video on YouTube


“I always said, hey, I love that dude,” he explained of his fandom of Chappelle’s earlier work. “That dude is so funny and I loved listening to the musicality of his jokes and the things he had to say. I always rocked with him.” When Chappelle’s Show started, Brady said he never missed an episode.

As for the Mooney joke—“white people love Wayne Brady because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X”—Brady said he was watching the show with his barber during an at-home appointment when he first saw it.

“I’ve gone down on record, god bless Paul Mooney, god bless him. A comedy legend,” Brady said. “When I got to talk to Paul years later, I stand by the fact that that joke was wack. It’s not a funny joke. Folks laughed at it, which comedy is always predicated on the fact that I’m going to make a joke in this room with the five of us right now, hoping that at least three of you will connect with the universality of what it is. That’s why you’re gonna laugh. So he made that joke based on the fact that he felt that Black culture would laugh at Bryant Gumbel and Wayne Brady.”

The takeaway, per Brady, was that he was “big enough in the world and in the culture” to be used as a touchpoint. And while Brady does agree it was “just a joke,” he made a point to note the power words can have in any context.

“They have power culturally,” he said. “You would tear down two people who are trailblazers in their own thing to get across the point that they’re not Black enough. You don’t own my Black card, Paul. Nobody owns my Black card.”

View this video on YouTube


Brady has addressed the joke before, including on Twitter in response to a fan last May where he said he hoped “you see why jokes like that are problematic in our culture”:

@SweetToonces As much as you like it, I hope you see why jokes like that are problematic in our culture. That’s the reason I did the sketch in response. It’s not a funny joke. The sketch we did was funny.

Around the 30-minute mark of the new interview, Brady detailed a few-drinks-deep subsequent afterparty encounter he had with Donnell Rawlings. While Rawlings was nice, and the two are now on good terms, Brady said he told the comedian “fuck y’all” and expressed anger over the Mooney joke. Two days later, Chappelle called Brady’s assistant with an offer.

According to Wayne, Dave apologized about the joke, stating Mooney wrote it. “I didn’t think that shit was funny anyway,” Chappelle is said to have told Brady, followed by an invite to come to New York and shoot what would later become a fan favorite from the Chappelle’s Show era.

“I knew when we were doing it that it was going to be special,” Brady said.

See more from Brady’s Breakfast Club interview up top.

Latest in Pop Culture