Why Dave Chappelle Is Begging His Fans to Boycott ‘Chappelle’s Show’
The comedian claims that ViacomCBS screwed him over with a lousy contract. “I believe that they gave me a raw deal because this f*cking industry is a monster,” he said.
Why is Chappelle’s Show no longer on Netflix? Dave Chappelle will tell you why—but the answer might be a little more complicated than you’d expect.
Earlier this month, the comedian took a beat during his post-election Saturday Night Live monologue to let viewers know that although his old Comedy Central program was available to stream on HBO Max and Netflix, he wasn’t being paid for it. ViacomCBS owns the show—and Chappelle insists that his old contract with the company screwed him out of a rightful paycheck for the show he created, starred in, and produced.
In an impassioned monologue posted to his Instagram account Tuesday, the comedian said he was never properly paid for Chappelle’s Show. Now, he said, he wants what he is owed.
The comedian noted that in “publicly flogging a network” he’s making a bold move. “It doesn’t feel good to be flogged publicly,” he said. “Oh, believe me, I know exactly how that feels. When I quit that show, they said I was crazy... They said I smoked crack. That was impossible. I was a devout Muslim; I didn’t smoke or drink. But I do now, bitch, because you ruined my fucking life.”
A representative for ViacomCBS did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Chappelle’s performance unfolds as a narrative—flitting from the moment he first heard his name announced (and mispronounced) at an early comedy gig in his teens, to the first time someone screwed him out of his own joke, to the time he realized that a man making money on the street playing Three-Card Monte was surrounded by friends who were in on the con. All of this context comes together as he discusses signing his contract with Comedy Central as a broke 28-year-old man expecting a child.
“I was desperate,” he said. “I needed a way out. And it wasn’t good money, and it wasn’t good circumstances, but What else am I gonna do? I said. And all these white people sitting at that table told me, ‘Trust us, Dave, it’s a good contract.’ And I looked around the table, and they all seemed to agree it was a good contract.”
“But what if it was like that game of Three-Card Monte?” the comedian continued. “What if they were all friends and I didn’t know it?”
“I believe that they gave me a raw deal because this fucking industry is a monster,” Chappelle said of ViacomCBS. “It’s the same monster that these #MeToo bitches was trying to tell you about. But they hate the monster for how it fucks, and I hate that monster for how it eats. But my god, man, it’s the same monster.”
After he ended his Comedy Central run, Chappelle said his fans asked why he’d never tried making the show elsewhere. To that he said, “And why doesn’t a slave run from one plantation to another plantation because the master over there might be nicer?” And besides, even if he did another show, he pointed out, he couldn’t use the same title—“because my name and likeness is being used by them in perpetuity throughout the universe; it’s in the contract!”
Netflix removed the show from its streaming roster at Chappelle’s request, Chappelle said, and a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Daily Beast. Chappelle has done multiple stand-up specials with the streamer, and during his monologue, he said that the company’s decision to remove his show is “why I fuck with Netflix.”
Now, Chappelle is asking his fans for help—albeit in a somewhat unorthodox manner. He’s begging them not to watch his own show. “I’m not asking you to boycott any network—boycott me,” he said. “Boycott Chappelle’s Show. Do not watch it unless they pay me.”