Dave Chappelle is not just a comic but a cultural force. From his legendary Comedy Central hit Chappelle’s Show to his popular stand-up specials, Chappelle is revered for combining absurd humor with thought-provoking political and social commentary. His most recent accolade was in 2020 when he won a Grammy Award (Best Comedy Album) for his Netflix special Sticks & Stones. He’s also managed to stay active during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, he released 8:46 on Netflix’s YouTube channel, and in November he hosted a memorable election-era episode of Saturday Night Live.
Any hardcore Chappelle fan knows that the comedian occasionally peppers his acts with anecdotes about his family. That said, he never reveals too much about them, preferring to keep the details of his personal life out of the spotlight. Here’s what we’ve gathered about Dave Chappelle’s wife and kids.
Who Is Dave Chappelle’s Wife, Elaine?
Elaine Mendoza Erfe, wife of Dave Chappelle, was born on August 31, 1974. Little is known about her early life, but Chappelle had divulged a few details over the years during an interview with Howard Stern. For starters, he revealed that she was raised in Brooklyn and is of Filipino descent, but she doesn’t speak Tagalog.
He also says they married around the same time she gave birth to their first child. The couple wed in 2001 and share three children: sons Sulayman and Ibrahim, and daughter Sanaa. Although the family spends the majority of their time in Yellow Spring, Ohio, his wife would often accompany him on longer gigs early in their marriage.
Today, she remains fiercely protective of her privacy and her husband’s well-being. Chappelle, who doesn’t waste time on critics and haters, says his wife keeps him in the loop about public reaction to his work.
“The only way I know about stuff is because everyone else tells me about it,” he said in a 2017 appearance on New York radio station HOT 97 (via CheatSheet). “My wife, if it gets real bad, she’ll let me know, like, ‘Oh, you should look into this.’ But for the most part, I try not to pay attention to it because you don’t want to be careful as a comedian. I try to keep my business small enough so it can still be authentic enough.”
How Did Dave And Elaine Chappelle Meet?
According to Chappelle, he and Elaine first met in the early 1990s when he moved to New York for his stand-up career.
Things were off to a rough start. In a 2006 appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, Chappelle said he was booed off stage during his Amateur Night performance at the Apollo Theater. Despite a disappointing debut, he kept grinding away on the local comedy circuit until he earned a spot on Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam.
And through it all, Elaine was by his side.
“She was with me when I was poor,” Chappelle told Howard Stern.
But the comedian waited until his career took off to reward her for her commitment. Chappelle only tied the knot after he had scored roles in a number of films: Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Nutty Professor, and Half-Baked.
Does Dave Talk About Elaine During His Standup?
Chappelle prefers to maintain his privacy. It’s one of the main reasons he chose to raise his family in Yellow Springs. He rarely speaks about his family in interviews—and that’s if he grants an interview in the first place.
“So much of an answer depends on how you feel any given day,” he said in a 2017 CBS News interview. “But it lives forever. Your opinions about things can change, your view of yourself can change, and yet this is on the permanent record… and that’s the cross you have to bear when you engage the press.”
That said, Chappelle has occasionally referenced his wife in his stand-up acts. “I’ve been married for twelve years,” he told his audience. “Imagine talking to the same person for twelve years. What do you have to say?”
Elaine doesn’t take it to heart. She continues to stand by his side at public appearances, and occasionally speaks on his behalf. In September 2020, she alerted a private Facebook group that her husband’s comedy series, Dave Chappelle & Friends – An Intimate Socially Distanced Affair, was canceled due to potential COVID-19 exposure in their inner circle.