City council candidate Rick James says having the same name as the late funk legend is no laughing matter — his campaign signs have been stolen or defaced because of a popular sketch on Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show.”
“It’s gotten so bad, I can put out a sign and the next day, sometimes the same day, it will be gone,” the 53-year-old political hopeful in Hattiesburg told The Associated Press.
At first he was confused about the popularity of his “Vote for Rick James” signs, having never seen the show.
Friends then informed him about the sketch, in which comedian Dave Chappelle dresses as James and utters a catch phrase beginning, “I’m Rick James ... ”
Even when dropping off his 15-year-old daughter at school, James said he can hear people sometimes yelling the phrase.
The popularity of the signs has stretched far beyond Hattiesburg. James has heard that his signs have been spotted up to 100 miles from the south Mississippi city. James also has be informed by local college students that his signs are often seen in dorm windows.
James, a former state mental health department worker, estimates that $600 in signs have been stolen. And with only three weeks left until the May 3 primary election, James said he’s down to his last 10 signs.
“It makes it hard to run a serious campaign,” James said.
James wrote a letter to Comedy Central asking the network to help pay for the signs, which cost about $5 each.
While there’s been no offer of money, the network did release a statement saying it felt “bad about the signs being stolen.”