Prince’s ‘Breakfast Can Wait’ Out-Chappelles Dave Chappelle: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Prince's "Breakfast Can Wait," with its food-as-sex theme, was more than a throwback to his carnal '80s zenith. This 2013 single provided an internet-breaking example of his impish sense of humor, too.
At that point, he'd only recently joined social media, but Prince's deft promotion of his latest song indicates that he arrived with no small amount of Twitter savvy: "Breakfast Can Wait," while offering a whole new concept of what constitutes the most important meal of the day, was accompanied with a hilarious cover shot of Dave Chappelle impersonating Prince.
Chappelle said he had to appreciate the way his joke was co-opted. "That's a Prince judo move right there," Chappelle told Jimmy Fallon in 2014. "You make fun of Prince in a sketch and he'll just use you in his album cover. What am I going to do — sue him for using a picture of me dressed up like him? … That's checkmate right there."
The image traces back to a segment on the Comedy Central series Chappelle's Show called "True Hollywood Stories: Prince." In the skit, Charlie Murphy recounts an impossibly cool day with Prince and the Revolution. Murphy and his brother Eddie meet them at a club; later, they face off in a game of pickup basketball, and then everyone eats – you guessed it – breakfast. Specifically, pancakes.
It all worked as both light-hearted parody and deeply felt tribute. "Breakfast Can Wait," released as a stand-alone single with the Chappelle image in August 2013 before finding a home on 2014's Art Official Age, ultimately ended up walking the same fine line.
Presented with minimal, slinky rhythm and this ruminative keyboard, Prince’s still-impossibly high vocal intertwined to produce a whispered, blush-inducing entreaty to remain in bed. But the track's flirty salaciousness is brilliantly undercut by the humorous cover image, which comes complete with Chappelle-as-Prince holding out a plate full of pancakes.
The best part: Turns out the basketball face-off actually happened. "That's a true story, by the way," Prince later confirmed. Asked if he had game, Prince took a shot a Chappelle: "Oh, definitely – and he don't. To be honest, it's not that I'm that great. He's just so bad."
So, did they actually have pancakes? "Well, I didn't make them," Prince admitted, "but we had pancakes. I loved it; it was great."
Among the signature lines from Chappelle's skit: "Why don't you purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?" Prince, however, went with a different one for his instant-classic tweet teasing "Breakfast Can Wait" via the since-closed @3rdEyeGirl account. "Game, Blouses," he added.
Prince still had one more zinger, which he carefully saved until bumping into Chappelle. "Dave came to one of my shows after, and he's going, 'Did you see the skit?'" Prince remembered. "I said, 'Yeah, yeah, come on and sit down.' We were just sitting there, chilling. We'd been there, like, two or three hours, whatever. Then, out of nowhere, I just said: 'Dave, want some pancakes?'"