"I'm definitely stressed out," said Chappelle, who took off last month to South Africa for a "spiritual retreat," leaving his fans — and even his agent and publicist — wondering where he went.
"You hear so many voices jockeying for position in your mind that you want to make sure that you hear your own voice," he said. "So I figured, let me just cut myself off from everybody, take a minute and pull a Flintstone — stop a speeding car by using my bare feet as the brakes."
After Comedy Central announced that the planned May 31 debut of the third season of "Chappelle's Show" had been postponed, the magazine Entertainment Weekly reported that Chappelle had checked himself into a mental health facility in South Africa.
"I'm not in a mental facility," said Chappelle, who also said he did not have a drug problem but had consulted a psychiatrist for one 40-minute visit.
The 31-year-old comedian said he fled to stay with friends in Durban because he wasn't happy with the direction of the show, which is behind only "South Park" as Comedy Central's most-watched program.
"There's a lot of resistance to my opinions, so I decided, 'Let me remove myself from this situation,"' Chappelle said.
Comedy Central president Doug Herzog told Time that the star has "complete creative freedom." He has told staff he believes there won't be a "Chappelle's Show" in 2005, but leaves the option open for the comedian's return.
Chappelle, whose wife and two children live in Ohio, said he hopes to start up the show again, but did not indicate when he would return.
Comedy Central had inked a reported $50 million deal to keep "Chappelle's Show" for two more seasons, and the comedian hinted to Time about struggles associated with the power and fame that come with that kind of success.
"If you don't have the right people around you, and you're moving at a million miles an hour, you can lose yourself," he said. "Everyone around me says, 'You're a genius, you're great, that's your voice,' but I'm not sure that they're right."
Last December, Chappelle told CBS' 60 Minutes about a time in his life which he called aHis father had just died and he'd recently walked away from a television deal with Fox.
It was around this time that Chappelle retreated to his sanctuary in Ohio. He left behind the network TV deals, the cliché movie roles, and the heavy partying. And he left it behind to spend more time with his friends and family and to take a good, hard look at himself.
"I was looking at myself for the first time, and I didn't like everything that I saw. But you got to do that in your life," Chappelle told 60 Minutes' Bob Simon. "You know, be able to do something great in your life, you're gonna have to realize your failures. You're gonna have to embrace them and figure out how to overcome it."
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