(Deadline) - “People think I made a lot of money from Chappelle’s Show,” Chappelle says in the video, filmed during a recent standup set, in which he reminisces about his comedy career. “When I left that show I never got paid. They (ViacomCBS) didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract. But is that right? I found out that these people were streaming my work and they never had to ask me or they never have to tell me. Perfectly legal ‘cause I signed the contract. But is that right? I didn’t think so either. That’s why I like working for Netflix. I like working for Netflix because when all those bad things happened to me, that company didn’t even exist. And when I found out they were streaming Chappelle’s Show, I was furious. How could they not– how could they not know? So you know what I did? I called them and I told them that this makes me feel bad. And you want to know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better. That’s why I f*ck with Netflix. Because they paid me my money, they do what they say they’re going to do, and they went above and beyond what you could expect from a businessman. They did something just because they thought that I might think that they were wrong. And I do — I think that if you are f*cking streaming that show you’re fencing stolen goods.”
First and foremost I want to thank whoever convinced Dave Chappelle to get an Instagram account. Getting snippets and short videos of the sets he's been filming at his compound in Ohio has been an incredible look into the process of one of the greatest comedians of all time. Comedians (obviously) haven't been able to tour around and hit clubs and work out material as they always have this year. So to have the top of the mountain working out new stuff like this very publicly is something we've never seen before. It's still Dave Chappelle speaking into a microphone, delivery and tone in tact. But it's much rawer, and the subject matter is more personal and impassioned than ever before. These are real time emotions and reactions, not bits that have been finely crafted night after night in front of myriad audiences in order to hit all the perfect marks.
Chappelle's relationship with "Chappelle's Show" is perhaps the most known facet of his life, for better or worse, so I wont rehash every detail here. But I think it's important to remember that he was very publicly portrayed as a fucking crack addict who lost his mind and ran away after crumbling from the pressure of fame and fortune. So his hatred and animosity still being this visceral really isn't that surprising. And yes I'm a proponent of honoring your contracts and being a man of your word. Comedy Central shouldn't have to pay Dave Chappelle for work he never completed. That's not what he's asking for. Most contracts prior to streaming existed, yanno, didn't account for streaming. So it's a grey area, and Netflix didn't have to take down shit. But it says a lot that they did. They've got the biggest comedian in the world on their roster and they want to keep him happy long term. Which I can only take to mean we have a shit ton of Chappelle material coming on the horizon. Short term loss for a long term gain feels smart to me, but what do I know. So thank you, Netflix, for focusing on the long play here and not forcing Chappelle to take another break. We were with him for too long as it was, I certainly don't need another decade without him on that stage.