Comedian Dave Chappelle has succeeded in getting his old sketch comedy program Chappelle’s Show removed from Netflix, after requesting the streaming service do so because the original rights holder, ViacomCBS, began licensing it without his permission.
The news means Netflix subscribers will no longer have access to the show’s three seasons that originally aired on Comedy Central. Netflix first made the show available on November 1st, and it’s no longer discoverable on the platform as of Tuesday afternoon. Netflix declined to comment.
“They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better.”
Chappelle’s Show aired on ViacomCBS-owned Comedy Central from 2003 to 2006 and the program has aired in the years since 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 (also a ViacomCBS property), HBO Max, and Netflix. Chappelle has a controversial relationship to the program, having quit it abruptly during production of its third season, and he does not own the rights to it despite it carrying his name.
Netflix, however, also has a lucrative contract with Chappelle for comedy specials and other programming that started back in 2016 and is worth tens of millions of dollars. The Wrap reports that Chappelle’s ongoing relationship with Netflix is why the streaming service decided to honor his request and pull his old show from the platform. The show is still available on CBS All Access and HBO Max as of Tuesday.
Chappelle initially mentioned his frustration with recent licensing deals around Chappelle’s Show in his Saturday Night Live monologue earlier this month. The comedian then posted an 18-minute clip of unreleased standup, titled “Unforgiven,” to his Instagram account earlier today.
In the clip, Chappelle references his request to Netflix, saying, “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.” He also called the decision to stream Chappelle’s Show “fencing stolen goods.”
Here’s the segment of the Instagram video starting at roughly the 11-minute mark that pertains to the Netflix request:
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 fuck 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 fucking 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 fucking industry is a monster.