• Elaine Mendoza Erfe is a Filipino-American housewife, married to comedian and actor Dave Chappelle
• The couple has two sons and a daughter, and live on a farm near Yellow Springs, Ohio
• Elaine encouraged Dave to stay in South Africa in 2005 and take time for reflection
• In 2020, she manages the rental properties Dave has purchased in Ohio
• Together, the couple has an estimated net worth of $42 million
Early life, family, educational background
Elaine Mendoza Erfe was born on 31 August 1974, in Brooklyn, New York City USA to parents who are Filipino, who moved to America shortly before Elaine’s birth, hoping to build a better life for their family – she doesn’t speak Tagalog. She was raised in a traditionally Christian home, following her parents’ beliefs, and as a child, Elaine dreamt of becoming a professional chef.
Who is Dave Chappelle?
American actor, director, writer and stand-up comedian, David Khari Webber Chappelle was born on 24 August 1973, in Washington DC, USA.
His mother, Yvonne K. Chappelle Seon (née Reed) was a professor at Prince George’s Community College; she is also a Unitarian Universalist minister and previously worked for Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. His father, William David Chappelle III started as a statistician, and then became a professor at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He has a stepmother and a stepbrother – his great-grandfather Bishop William D. Chappelle served as a president of Allen University.
Dave attended Woodlin Elementary School when he lived in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he grew up. His parents were especially politically active, but regular guests at his home included Johnny Hartman and Pete Seeger – Johnny would comment on Dave’s comedic capabilities, and was vocal in his belief regarding Dave doing comedy professionally.
At the time, Dave’s comedy role models were Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy.
Following his parents’ separation, he lived with his mother in Washington, and spent the summers in Ohio with his father. While in high school, he had a part-time job at Ford’s Theater as an usher. Ford’s is well-known as the theater where president Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. He graduated from Washington’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 1991, with a degree in theater arts.
Dave is best known for his satirical comedy sketch series “Chappelle’s Show”, which ran from 22 January 2003 to 23 July 2006, which he co-wrote with Neal Brennan. He used his show and popularity to promote hip-hop artists and other black comedians.
The sketch comedy portrayed American culture, and featured raw yet humorous commentary in a parodied style. The show is widely regarded as one of the greatest sketch shows in history, and ranked as one of the most popular series on television during its time on air. Favorite characters included Clayton Bigsby, realtor and crack addict Tyrone Biggums, black/white supremacist Silky Johnson, and late musicians, Prince and Rick James.
In June 2004 at a stand-up comedy performance in Sacramento, California, he walked off the stage because audience members were shouting, ‘I’m Rick James, bitch!’ – a popular line from the “Rick James” sketch on “Cappelle’s Show.” A couple of minutes after leaving the stage, he returned and disclaimed, ‘The show is ruining my life,’ he went on to explain that the popularity of the show meant that doing stand-up shows was more difficult.
He also said that he was tired of working for 20 hours a day. He spoke to the audience directly when he said, ‘You know why my show is good? Because the network officials say you’re not smart enough to get what I’m doing, and every day I fight for you. I tell them how smart you are. Turns out, I was wrong. You people are stupid.’
On 31 May 2005, season 3 of “Cappelle’s Show” was scheduled to air. However, Dave surprised everybody in early May when he decided to leave during production, and take a trip to South Africa. Allegedly, he felt that he could not mourn his father’s passing because the show was controlling his life.
He said he was not happy with the direction the show was taking, and in an interview with Time magazine, he said he needed time for reflection, ‘Coming here, I don’t have the distractions of fame. It quiets the ego down… I want to be well-rounded, and the industry is a place of extremes.’ Tabloids had other ideas, though; reports followed Dave’s departure that did not match what he had said but rather speculated about mental problems or drug abuse. When he walked away from the show, he caused a longtime rift with his collaborator, Neal Brennan, and the loss of $50 million from his contract with Comedy Central.
He spent his time with his wife and children. For the following seven years, Elaine helped him live a quiet, private life away from the industry and spotlight.
During this time he did a few stand-up shows, and appeared on television a couple of times. In 2013, he returned to full-time stand-up comedy and touring – fans and critics agreed that his material was more mature than his previous work. The quality of responsibility in his material is seen as a result of his long and stable marriage.
In 2006, Esquire named him the ‘comic genius of America’, and in 2013, Billboard called him ‘the best.’ In 2017, he was ranked number nine in Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Stand Up Comics of All Time.”
He has appeared in several movies – in 1993 in Mel Brook’s “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”, in 1996’s “The Nutty Professor,” 1998’s “You’ve Got Mail,” 2002’s “Undercover Brother,” and 2018’s “A Star Is Born.”
As promised- here's a staged candid shot of me having deep thoughts whilst on my motorcycle. pic.twitter.com/LCJZmNsn
— David Chappelle (@DaveChappelle) March 21, 2012
In 1996, he starred in ABC’s comedy series “Buddies”, and in 1998 he played his first lead role in the comedy film “Half Baked,” which was co-written by himself and Neal Brennan. In 2006 he signed a comedy-special deal with Netflix, for $20 million-per-release. As of 2019, he had released five stand-up specials under the deal.
He has received several, awards including a Mark Twain Prize, two Emmy and three Grammy Awards.
Elaine never followed her dream to become a chef, but chose to become a housewife, and cooks for her family every day.
As of early 2020, she manages the rental properties Dave has purchased in Ohio.
Elaine keeps her personal life private – her and Dave have made sure to keep their lives out of the spotlight since the beginning of their marriage. They are photographed together at fundraisers, red carpet events and other public outings.
The pair married in 2001 after dating for a few short months – details of their wedding have never been shared publicly. Elaine was reportedly hesitant to date Dave at first, due to his loud personality, but she quickly realized that behind his loud exterior, he was a shy man, and she fell in love with him. Shortly before their wedding, Dave converted to Islam, which plays a large role in his life, but Elaine did not want to give up her religion and remained a Christian. Nevertheless, they live together in harmony and respectfully debate religion.
They have two sons, Sulayman and Ibrahim, and a daughter, Sanaa together. The family lives on a 65-acre (26 ha) farm near Yellow Springs, Ohio, which Elaine says she loves because it’s serene, private and surrounded by cornfields.
The couple kept their relationship private from the public until they were already married. Their first public appearance as a couple was in Dayton, Ohio at the annual Philippines-American picnic. After the event, his fans showed their support for the marriage and for Elaine. In interviews, Dave speaks well about his wife and shares happy stories about her, but other than what he shares in interviews, not much is known about Elaine.
Dave also brings his children along to red carpet events, and speaks about them in interviews too.
He is known for being family-orientated, and in his stand-up shows, he includes jokes about his family, and humorous moments they’ve shared. When Dave was in South Africa in 2005, Elaine encouraged him to stay there for longer than he originally planned, as she felt that the media’s negative comments would be mentally damaging to him.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
In “The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at the Hollywood Palladium 2017,” she briefly appeared in the backstage segment. Dave dedicated the show to her.
Elaine has black eyes and naturally black hair, but often dyes it. She is 5ft 1in (1.55m) tall and weighs around 120lbs (55kgs).
Net worth and salary
Together, Elaine and Dave have an estimated net worth of $42 million. Most of their money came from “The Chappelle Show,” Dave’s comedy stand-up shows and his appearances in a few movies.