We really didn’t know how badly we needed Chappelle’s Show until it arrived, did we?
Back in 2003, SNL was fine, but not exactly groundbreaking, and sketch comedy was hard to find anywhere else on TV. So when comedian Dave Chappelle unveiled his Comedy Central sketch show, it felt like a bomb went off: No other show felt so current, or so vital. No other show was so willing to tackle hot-button issues like race, sex and politics. And no other show was so damn funny — not even close.
Now, 15 years later, Chappelle’s Show only seems more revolutionary and more iconic in retrospect. It shined brightly, and burned out fast; by Season 3, Dave infamously turned his back on a $50 million contract and headed to Africa, ditching the series at a mere 28 episodes. But we were lucky to have Dave on TV as long as we did — and he still blessed us with a collection of classic sketches that stand among the funniest things aired on TV this century.
In honor of the show turning 15 next week — almost old enough to drive! — we’ve selected the 15 very best Chappelle’s Show sketches and ranked them, as a definitive chronicle of the show’s immense achievement and ongoing influence. So strum a little blues guitar, crack open a can of Red Balls and click on the gallery above — or click here for direct access — as we celebrate Chappelle’s greatest hits. (It’s a celebration, bitches!)