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Netflix takes down Dave Chappelle's sketch series Chappelle's Show at his request


The debate over artists’ rights has been reignited by Dave Chappelle, who recently asked Netflix to remove his old comedy series, Chappelle’s Show, from their platform.  

During a stand-up special, which the 47-year-old shared on social media Tuesday, he explained why he was ‘furious’ to learn that it was being streamed, as well as his reasoning to have his most famous work pulled off the popular service. 

Netflix obliged and Chappelle’s Show fans will no longer be able to stream the iconic sketch series – which originally ran on Comedy Central. 

Artists rights: Dave Chappelle was 'furious' to learn that his famous sketch series Chappelle's Show was being streamed on Netflix and the platform obliged his request to have it removed because he doesn't have the rights to his own work

Artists rights: Dave Chappelle was ‘furious’ to learn that his famous sketch series Chappelle’s Show was being streamed on Netflix and the platform obliged his request to have it removed because he doesn’t have the rights to his own work

‘People think I made a lot of money from Chappelle’s Show,’ he said in the clip. ‘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?’ 

In short, Dave explained that he has no rights to his eponymous series and that, due to the deal he signed at the time, it belongs to Comedy Central and Viacom. 

Chappelle recalled how upset he was to learn that his famous sketch series was  being streamed during a comedy special titled Unforgiven, which he posted to Instagram. 

During the show, the actor reflected on the many times during his career, particularly when he was starting out, when he was ‘intimidated’ and taken advantage of by others in the industry.

'People think I made a lot of money from Chappelle's Show,' he said in the clip. '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?'

‘People think I made a lot of money from Chappelle’s Show,’ he said in the clip. ‘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?’

While discussing the language in contracts he has signed as an ‘artist’, Dave rattled off some legalese to the audience, asking ‘who the f**k could possibly know what that means?’ 

‘That’s how I got with Comedy Central,’ he said from the stage. ‘I signed the contract. But, I signed the contract the way the 28-year-old expectant father who’s broke signs a contract.’ 

‘I was desperate and I needed a way out,’ he continued. ‘And, it wasn’t good money and it wasn’t good circumstances but, ugh, “what else am I going to do?” I said.’

'That's how I got with Comedy Central,' he said from the stage. 'I signed the contract. But, I signed the contract the way the 28-year-old expectant father who's broke signs a contract.' 'I was desperate and I needed a way out. And, it wasn't good money and it wasn't good circumstances but, ugh, "what else am I going to do?' I said.'

‘That’s how I got with Comedy Central,’ he said from the stage. ‘I signed the contract. But, I signed the contract the way the 28-year-old expectant father who’s broke signs a contract.’ ‘I was desperate and I needed a way out. And, it wasn’t good money and it wasn’t good circumstances but, ugh, “what else am I going to do?’ I said.’

Artists' rights: In short, Dave explained that he has no rights to his eponymous series and that, due to the deal he signed at the time, it belongs to Comedy Central and Viacom

Artists’ rights: In short, Dave explained that he has no rights to his eponymous series and that, due to the deal he signed at the time, it belongs to Comedy Central and Viacom

At the time, the ‘white people sitting at the table’, some of which he had hired to shepherd him through this process, advised him that it was a ‘good contract.’ 

It turns out that what he signed essentially cut him out of owning his own work, or as Dave put it, the network ‘stole’ it because ‘this f**king industry is a monster.’ 

‘This is why I like working for Netflix,’ he said. ‘I like working for Netflix because when all those bad things happened to me, that company didn’t even exist. 

‘I called them and I told them that this makes me feel bad,’ he said while smoking a blunt. ‘Do you wanna know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better.’

'I called [Netflix] and I told them that this makes me feel bad,' he said while smoking a blunt. 'Do you wanna know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better.'

‘I called [Netflix] and I told them that this makes me feel bad,’ he said while smoking a blunt. ‘Do you wanna know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better.’

The Half Baked star went on to heap praise on Netflix for doing the right thing, paying him, respecting him and going ‘above and beyond.’ 

According to TMZ, Netflix had no legal obligation to respect his unconventional request to remove the series but they did so anyway. 

He also shared that before originally going to Comedy Central, he pitched Chappelle’s Show to HBO and the executives callously asked him ‘what do we need you for?’ 

Ironically, when it was recently announced that the series would be streaming on Netflix, it was also being simultaneously released on HBO Max. 

‘What DO you need me for?’ he asked rhetorically.  

Working relationship: Chappelle signed a $20 million per release deal with Netflix to produce and star in comedy specials in 2016

Working relationship: Chappelle signed a $20 million per release deal with Netflix to produce and star in comedy specials in 2016

Chappelle’s Show debuted on Comedy Central in 2003 and aired until 2006. It had a cult following and the actor became renowned for his parody sketches, like his infamous portrayal of Rick James.

During his social media clip, Dave left the door open to the possibility of doing another Chappelle’s Show but noted that he’d have to name it something different since the original name is ‘in the contract’ with Comedy Central. 

After taking a hiatus from public life following the cancellation of the series, Chappelle signed a $20 million per release deal with Netflix to produce and star in comedy specials in 2016.

As of 2020, Dave has released five of those specials so far.  

Good working relationship:  According to TMZ , Netflix had no legal obligation to respect his unconventional request to remove the series but they did so anyway

Good working relationship:  According to TMZ , Netflix had no legal obligation to respect his unconventional request to remove the series but they did so anyway



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