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.
Chappelle has been off the market for almost 20 years. In 2001, he tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend Elaine. The couple shares three children: sons Suleyman and Ibrahim, and daughter Sanaa.
Elaine was pregnant with their first son when they wed. Chappelle joked to Howard Stern that it was "a new school wedding where the baby is at the wedding."
After walking away from Chappelle's Show in 2006, the comedian moved to rural Yellow Springs, Ohio. He continues to live there with his family on a 65-acre farm, where Elaine is presumably a stay-at-home partner who raises the kids.
"It’s almost like a nature reserve where they’ll let me run free,” he remarked in a 2017 interview with CBS News. “I’m a protected commodity.”
Elaine Mendoza Erfe (born August 31, 1974) met Chappelle in the 1990s, when he first launched his stand-up career. He revealed to Howard Stern that his future wife is a Brooklynite of Filipino descent—and that her loyalty to him runs deep. "She was with me when I was poor," said Chappelle.
She also keeps Chappelle in the loop about public feedback on 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.”
Chappelle prefers to maintain his privacy. It's one of the main reasons he chooses 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 the 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.