Dave Chappelle's return to the comedy stage comes at a racially charged time in the U.S.

But the comedian, who has never shied away from racial issues, says that's just a coincidence.

He says now is a "surprisingly emotionally charged time," adding that comedians can help sort through "all this information and emotional content."

Chappelle spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday. He was on Long Island at the Art For Life benefit, where he received an award from Russell Simmons' Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

During his acceptance speech, Chappelle said the arts education he received in high school in Washington, D.C., saved him.

The event raised funds for arts in schools and other programs that benefit children and emerging artists.