February 03, 2006 09:00 AM

In his first TV appearance since he faded from public view last year, Dave Chappelle opened up to Oprah Winfrey on her show Friday, owning up to the stressful times he’s been through – and revealing his plans to return to his hit show.

The runaway comic – who ditched his $50 million Comedy Central contract last year and went off on a spiritual retreat to South Africa – told Winfrey: “I do want to do my show again provided, one, I can make the proper work environment. But more importantly, I want to give. … I don’t want the money. I don’t want the drama. I just want to do my show. I want to have fun again.”

Chappelle, 32, said that while working on the last season of The Dave Chappelle Show he was frequently at odds with the producers – and even started to doubt his own brand of irreverent, racially charged comedy. “I would go to work on the show and I felt awful every day . I felt like some kind of prostitute or something.”

To overcome the dilemma he says he wants to give half of the revenue from his DVD sales to charity. “So even if I say something socially irresponsible, (some proceeds would go) to a socially responsible cause.”

As for the obvious question of whether he’ll be able to work out a deal with Comedy Central to return to The Chappelle Show, he told Winfrey: “We’re going to figure it out.”

The Oprah appearance wasn’t Chappelle’s only TV outing. He also shared his thoughts on comedy and his career with James Lipton, host of Bravo’s Inside the Actors Studio, in an interview scheduled to air Feb. 12.

As for his state of mind, “I’m going through some real tough times, some nitty-gritty stuff,” Chappelle tells Lipton. “When you go through things like this, it helps to put it all in perspective. I’m famous today. People like me today. Might not like me tomorrow. You can’t count on it. The world can’t tell you who you are. You’ve just got to figure out who you are and be there, for better or worse.”

Chappelle says performing standup is where his heart is: “When I’m on stage, I get real happy there. Maybe that’s the only time in my adult life I feel like myself.”

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