Netflix has pulled comedian Dave Chapelle’s popular sketch comedy program, Chappelle’s Show, in adherence to the comedian’s personal request.
The show was added to Netflix and HBO Max on Nov. 1. Chappelle, who has taped several comedy specials for Netflix, explained why he asked the service to pull his show in an Instagram post on Tuesday. In the 18-minute video, Chappelle tells an audience a story about his first time doing standup comedy and a time he played three-card monte in New York City.
Chappelle goes on to explain the contract negotiations he went through with Comedy Central and how he felt pressured to sign the contract at that point in his life.
“I signed the contract and I signed the contract the way a 28-year-old expectant father that’s broke signs a contract, I was desperate, I needed a way out.”
Chappelle, whose first movie role was in 1993, explained to the crowd that despite the show being streamed, he never got paid for it, something he also explained during his Saturday Night Live appearance earlier this month.
“When I left that show I never got paid,” Chappelle told the crowd. “[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.”
He then called the streaming of his show an act of theft and urged his fans not to watch the show until ViacomCBS stops withholding royalty payments.
“I think that if you are (expletive) streaming that show you’re fencing stolen goods,” Chappelle told the audience. “So I’m not going to the agents, I’m coming to my real boss, I’m coming to you. I’m begging you — if you ever liked me, if you ever think there was anything worthwhile about me, I’m begging you, please don’t watch that show. I’m not asking you to boycott any network. Boycott me. Boycott Chappelle’s Show. Do not watch it unless they pay me.”
Chappelle’s Show aired on ViacomCBS-owned Comedy Central from 2003 to 2006. The show became wildly popular for its controversial and hilarious skits. After the first two seasons, Chappelle signed a $50 million deal, but walked off the set weeks later and quit the show citing creative burnout.
The program still has a dedicated following and has aired on other cable networks through syndication deals. It has also been available through Comedy Central’s own website and app, but more recently on streaming services, including CBS All Access. Earlier this year, the Half Baked star did a special, days after the death of George Floyd, ripping Candace Owens, Don Lemon, and others.