Netflix has taken down Dave Chappelle’s comedy sketch series ‘Chappelle’s Show‘ from its platform following a request from Chappelle himself due to debate over artists’ rights.
The 47-year-old comedian took issue with ViacomCBS, the original rights holder of the show, licensing it to Netflix without his permission.
The show was first made available on Netflix starting 1 November 2020, and it is no longer discoverable on the platform as of Tuesday (24 Nov).
Chappelle’s Show originally aired on Comedy Central between 2003 and 2006, ending with Chappelle’s abrupt departure during the third season’s production. Since then, the show has been aired on other networks and streaming services through syndication deals, though the rights to Chappelle’s Show remained with ViacomCBS.
Chappelle reportedly has a controversial relationship to the show given his sudden withdrawal back in 2006, and perhaps also the fact he does not own the rights to it despite it bearing his name.
However, it is believed that Netflix has a profitable and long-standing relationship with Chappelle – in the form of a lucrative contract for comedy specials and other programming worth tens of millions of dollars – and likely pulled the show from its platform in order to maintain their strong partnership.
Entertainment news outlet The Wrap echoed the similar sentiment, noting that Chappelle’s ongoing relationship with Netflix is why the streaming service decided to honour his request by removing his old show from the platform.
Chappelle initially expressed his frustration with the recent licensing deals around Chappelle’s Show during his monologue when hosting the post-election Saturday Night Live episode earlier this month – in which he called out both Netflix and HBO Max for streaming the show.
He then took to his Instagram yesterday to share a 18-minute clip of unreleased stand-up, titled ‘Unforgiven‘, speaking on his conversation with Netflix regarding the show, and the “raw deal” he had with ViacomCBS.
Here’s an excerpt of the Instagram video pertaining to Chappelle’s request to Netflix:
People think I made a lot of money from Chappelle’s Show. When I left that show, I never got paid. They 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 because 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 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 if you are f*cking streaming that show you’re fencing stolen goods. They stole that from me. They just took it. And I’m not here trying to tell you guys that I believe Comedy Central gave me a raw deal just because I’m black. I believe they gave me a raw deal because this f*cking industry is a monster.