NEW YORK – Comedian Dave Chappelle (search) wants to set things straight: "I'm not crazy, I'm not smoking crack," he tells Time magazine in an interview more than a week after his hit Comedy Central (search) show was suspended and the rumors started to fly.
"I'm definitely stressed out," said Chappelle, who took off last month to South Africa for a "spiritual retreat," leaving his fans — and even his agent and publicist — wondering where he went.
"You hear so many voices jockeying for position in your mind that you want to make sure that you hear your own voice," he said. "So I figured, let me just cut myself off from everybody, take a minute and pull a Flintstone — stop a speeding car by using my bare feet as the brakes."
After Comedy Central announced that the planned May 31 debut of the third season of "Chappelle's Show" (search) had been postponed, the magazine Entertainment Weekly reported that Chappelle had checked himself into a mental health facility in South Africa.
"I'm not in a mental facility," said Chappelle, who also said he did not have a drug problem but had consulted a psychiatrist for one 40-minute visit.
The 31-year-old comedian said he fled to stay with friends in Durban because he wasn't happy with the direction of the show, which is behind only "South Park" as Comedy Central's most-watched program.
"There's a lot of resistance to my opinions, so I decided, 'Let me remove myself from this situation,'" Chappelle said.
Comedy Central president Doug Herzog (search) told Time that the star has "complete creative freedom." He has told staff he believes there won't be a "Chappelle's Show" in 2005, but leaves the option open for the comedian's return.
Chappelle, whose wife and two children live in Ohio, said he hopes to start up the show again, but did not indicate when he would return.
Comedy Central had inked a reported $50 million deal to keep "Chappelle's Show" for two more seasons, and the comedian hinted to Time about struggles associated with the power and fame that come with that kind of success.
"If you don't have the right people around you, and you're moving at a million miles an hour, you can lose yourself," he said. "Everyone around me says, 'You're a genius, you're great, that's your voice,' but I'm not sure that they're right."