CSI: Dave Chappelle

Dave Chapelle in an undated promotional photo for his show's "lost episodes."
AP Photo/Comedy Central/O'Brien
Comedy Central couldn't resist the easy joke, opening the aborted third season of "Chappelle's Show" Sunday with a shot of an empty stage and introduction of a star who never appears.

It's the first of three episodes compiled from sketches left behind before Dave Chappelle's now-legendary freakout, when he walked out on a $50 million contract and one of TV's hottest shows two years ago under still-mysterious circumstances.

This isn't a designed farewell," said Neal Brennan, the show's co-creator who put them together. "There's no cliffhanger. These were just three out of what was supposed to be 10 — and the other seven never happened."

"The opening sketch, besides illustrating the sharp comic touch that made the show popular, gives fodder for armchair psychologists.

Chappelle is sitting in a barber's chair, getting a trim in a place that advertises $8 haircuts. His barber says Chappelle must be raking in the money as a big-time TV star.

"Nah, man, it's cable," he replies. "I do all right, but it's nothing to write home about."

Just then, a TV in the corner airs a report of Chappelle's big payday from Comedy Central. The barber's face turns cold and his haircut has a new price — $11,000.

Chappelle also gets a prediction from a dying man: "You didn't have to do two more seasons. No matter how good the show is, they're only going to say it's not as good as last year was."