- David Chapelle and his wife, Elaine Erfe, have three children together.
- They’ve raised their sons, Sulayman and Ibrahim, and daughter Sanaa, out of the public eye.
- Dave credits his children for his decision to take his “professional life more seriously’ and for giving him ‘depth.’
“Everything changed after I had children,” Dave Chappelle told CBS News in 2017. “I took my professional life more seriously. And I think, as a dude, I had more depth after I had kids.” Dave and his wife, Elaine Erfe, have maintained their lives outside the spotlight. Since marrying in 2001 and relocating to Yellow Springs, Ohio, a 65-acre farm. Since then, the couple has welcomed three children — Sulayman, Ibrahim, and Sanaa – but Dave and Elaine have done their best to give their kids a life free of the pressures of Dave’s fame and infamy.
In the year that Dave spoke with CBS News about how much his kids “changed” him, he returned to standup with a $20 million-per-special deal with Netflix. He released two back-to-back specials, which used an offensive term for trans individuals “briefly during [his] meditations on gender roles, sexuality and what it means to be masculine and feminine,” per Variety. The usage ruffles some feathers, but the mainstream mainly embraced Chapelle’s return.
In 2019, Dave released his fifth special for Netflix, Sticks and Stones, which is the first time that Dave mentioned Daphne Dorman, a software engineer and trans comic that took her life later that year. The special contains comments that draw the ire of the LGBTQ+ community, but Dorman defended Chappelle, per SFGATE. “He isn’t punching up or punching down,” she tweeted. “He’s punching lines. That’s his job, and he’s a master of his craft.” Two years later, Netflix released Dave’s sixth and final special under the 2016 Netflix deal, The Closer.
Most of the special was focused on Dave’s reaction to the allegations of transphobia and the fallout of his previous specials. “If you only wanted to get through one of these [specials] without a long, crabby detour on gay people and gender identity, Closer’s designed to work your nerves,” wrote Craig Jenkins for Vulture. “He has the textbook edgelord ally’s arrogance. He swears he knows how to fix things for you, but he’s just asking for you to take up less space, to usher in progress by giving other people time to come around to you.”
Despite the backlash to the special, The Closer was nominated for two Emmy Awards. Dave continued to get some high-profile gigs during this controversy, including performances at both Taylor Hawkins memorial concerts and for the Nov. 12, 2022, episode of Saturday Night Live. In what has become a tradition since 2016, Dave was booked to host the show following a major U.S. election. He hosted after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, after Joe Biden won in 2020, and now, after the 2022 midterms.
Ahead of the 2022 episode, here’s what you need to know about his kids.
Dave and Elaine’s three kids all have very unique names, which are reportedly a tribute to Dave’s Muslim faith, along with his wife’s Christian background. The comedian’s oldest son Sulayman was born in 2001, and is a boxing enthusiast.
While not much is known about Sulayman, his A-list dad told a story during one of his comedy specials about finding marijuana in his room. “I went into my older son’s room … and I found these notebooks and I started going through the notebooks,” he said. “There was all this wonderful poetry in it… Then I looked through his drawers, opened his middle drawer, and found his rolling papers. I looked down at them papers and said, ‘Oh, that’s where the poetry’s coming from.’”
Just two years after welcoming their first son, Dave and Elaine welcomed Ibrahim in 2003. It came a few years before the comedian would infamously walk away from Chappelle’s Show amid personal issues. “She was with me when I was poor,” Dave said of his longtime marriage to Elaine, before noting that she stuck by his side throughout the rough times in 2006. Little is known about Ibrahim, just that he resides in the family’s small Ohio town with his parents and two siblings.
The couple’s youngest child, daughter Sanaa, was born in 2009. While she keeps a low profile like her two older brothers, her dad opened up in a 2019 Netflix standup special, Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation, about watching his children grow up. “I see my age in my children. I came home from the road not long ago — I was gone for weeks, and nobody was home when I came back. Not one person in my family thought maybe I’d like to see them when I got back,” he recalled. “That sh-t was a wake-up call. When my kids were little and the tour bus would pull up to the house, [they’d] spill out. ‘Dad is home, hooray!’ Then as the years went on, they’d get less interested. ‘Hey everybody, look: It’s Mr. Promises back from the road.’”
It seems young Sanaa could be following in her dad’s footsteps, as she had a small cameo in the hit 2018 film, A Star Is Born. She played her real-life dad’s daughter and appeared on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival with Dave.