When Dave Chappelle took the stage to host Saturday Night Live earlier this month, he started off his monologue by talking about his great-grandfather, a man who had been a slave for ten years. Chappelle said he had been thinking about him and his story lately, but not because of Trump or the election. It was because Netflix and HBO Max had just picked up the streaming rights to his iconic Comedy Central series Chappelle’s Show and he didn’t get any money out of the deal. Now, because of a request from Chappelle himself, Netflix has agreed to pull Chappelle’s Show from its streaming platform after only a few weeks—24 days, to be exact—since it first became available.
Chappelle offered more insight into the situation in an Instagram video posted today called Unforgiven, with him telling a crowd about instances in his life when people have taken his work without compensating him fairly. One of the examples, the one the whole story hinges on, is how ViacomCBS controls Chappelle’s Show now and doesn’t have to give him any part of it because of a contract he signed before he left the show. That means no money and no input on any decisions about what happens to it.
Chappelle says that when he heard Netflix had picked up his show he was “furious,” because he has an existing relationship with Netflix through his recent stand-up specials, and he couldn’t believe the company would pay ViacomCBS for the streaming rights to his show if it had known how he had been screwed. So, rather than back down, Chappelle says he called Netflix and told the company that the Chappelle’s Show announcement had made him feel bad and that he would like it to be removed from the platform, which Netflix has now done.
The show is still on HBO Max, but Chappelle’s not done. In the video, he also asks his fans to stop watching Chappelle’s Show on streaming services, saying they don’t need to boycott any companies in general but that they should boycott him. He also addresses ViacomCBS shareholders, saying they should recognize that what was done to him isn’t right and that his work has already made so much money for the company that he deserves to finally be compensated fairly for it—even if the people making these decisions weren’t there when he left Chappelle’s Show. Chappelle also makes it clear that he intends to fight this as hard as he can until ViacomCBS agrees to work out a new deal, giving the company two options before dropping his mic and walking offstage: “We can fight together and work this thing with Chappelle’s Show out, or I can just take it.”