Who Is Dave Chappelle’s Wife?

Comedian Dave Chappelle may possibly be the best in the world. Next to Kevin Hart, he’s easily the most widely recognized comedian in recent years. Renowned for his often crude and controversial comedy, Chappelle has found ways to both tickle the ribs and ruffle feathers. Love him or hate him, he’s proven that he has no plans of shying away from speaking his mind, which at times has made him a social pariah among certain demographics in his fan base.

His most recent transphobic comments during his Netflix stand-up special The Closer have recently landed him in hot water again with the LGBTQ community and have caused many fans to call for his cancellation. They say you have to have tough skin to live the life of a comedian, but if you’re going to marry one, then you’re going to need even tougher skin. It seems that no celebrity spouse fits that description better than Chappelle’s wife, Elaine Mendoza Erfe Chappelle.

Who is Elaine Mendoza Chappelle?

Being that Chappelle and his family keep a lot of their life private, not much is known about Elaine Chappelle. According to Parade, she was born to Filipino parents on Aug. 31, 1974, making her exactly a year younger than her husband. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Elaine had aspirations of being a chef before she met Chappelle. That all changed when she got to know the comedian.

Elaine initially hesitated to date Chappelle because she didn’t really like people with loud personalities. However, as she got to know the comedian, she recognized that the real Dave was disguising himself with a loud personality to mask his shyness, and eventually she fell for him.

Most of the time when you hear about a comedian’s first meeting with their future spouses, it’s usually after they’re already well-established and widely recognized. That wasn’t the case with Chappelle and Elaine. 

Originally from Washington DC, Chappelle moved to New York after he graduated from high school in the early ’90s to pursue comedy and acting. At the time, he was pretty much broke and grinding on the local comedy circuit when he first met Elaine. From getting booed off stage during his amateur night performance at the Apollo Theater to finally earning a spot on Russell Simmons’s Def Comedy Jam, Elaine remained by his side the entire time. “She was with me when I was poor,” Chappelle has said once in an interview with Howard Stern.

She stuck it out with him until he got rich as well. Soon after, Chappelle’s career began to take off after he landed roles in various films including The Nutty Professor and Half Baked. Once it seemed like his finances were more in order, the couple wed in 2001 and have been inseparable for the last 20 years. Currently, the Chappelles have 3 children: their sons, Sulayman and Ibrahim, and their daughter, Sonal. Not much is known about the three kids, as it seems that Chappelle and Elaine make sure to keep relatively low profiles.

For Chappelle, Elaine has been his greatest support system throughout his career, even during the more turbulent times. When he walked away from the third season of The Chappelle Show in 2006 amidst rumors and personal issues, she stood by him. Rumors that Chappelle was suffering from mental health issues and substance abuse problems led to his abrupt departure to South Africa and resulted in a breach of his $50 million contract with Comedy Central. Despite the massive income loss due to what was clearly a poor decision in hindsight, Elaine supported Chappelle’s decision and defended him against the backlash when possible. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean she was happy about it, but she did it anyway.

“My wife’s still a little salty… She’s not mad at me, but don’t think you’re going to walk away from $50 million and your wife’s just gonna be cool with it,” he revealed in an interview on Late Night with Conan O’Brien

Regardless, Elaine is clearly Chappelle’s biggest supporter and is extremely protective of her husband’s well-being.  She continues to stand by his side at public appearances and occasionally speaks on his behalf. In fact, it’s usually Elaine who alerts Chappelle to how the public reacts to his comedy. 

“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. “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.”

And he’s not kidding about keeping his business small enough. Currently, Chappelle and his wife have their family living on the outskirts of the small town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, which boasts a meager population of 3,500. The town is an especially sentimental place for Chappelle, as he spent a lot of his childhood there while his father was the dean of students and a professor of vocal performance at Antioch College.

In 2017, Chappelle told CBS News that he appreciates the way Yellow Springs gives him privacy and space, something that his family cherishes deeply. However, now that The Closer has brought Chappelle’s contract with Netflix to an end, the family may decide to move to Africa⏤permanently.

If they decide to remain in the States, you can guarantee that Elaine Chappelle is going to continue supporting her husband no matter what. After 20 years of marriage and multiple controversies, she’s been through it all and remained loyal through thick and thin. Dave Chappelle’s most recent controversy isn’t any different; it’s just another bump in the road.