Comedian Dave Chappelle on Tuesday posted a video on Instagram asking his fans not to stream episodes of his Comedy Central show until he gets more money for them. The plea came near the end of a lengthy clip of Chappelle doing a standup routine, during which he reveals Netflix pulled the series after he asked them to.
“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,” Chappelle said. “I’m not asking you to boycott any network. Boycott me. Boycott ‘Chappelle’s Show.’ Do not watch it unless they pay me.”
The majority of the nearly 19-minutes-long clip is devoted to Chappelle claiming that due to the contract he signed before he abruptly quit “Chappelle’s Show,” he doesn’t get any additional money for the work he did — even as big media companies continue to profit from his work.
“I signed the contract the way a 28-year-old expectant father that was broke signs a contract,” he explained. “I was desperate and needed a way out. And it wasn’t good money and it wasn’t good circumstances but, ‘what else am I gonna do?’ I said.”
After two successful seasons, Chappelle signed an extension with Comedy Central worth $50 million. After numerous production delays, Chappelle left both the show and the country. Comedy Central then cobbled together a shortened third season using previously unreleased sketches.
“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?” Chappelle asked the audience. “I found out that these people were streaming my work. And they never had to ask me and they never had to tell me. Perfectly legal, because I signed the contract. But is that right?”
The comedian also takes issue with HBO Max, which also recently began streaming the show. He says he pitched “Chappelle’s Show” to HBO and they rejected it before he went to Comedy Central.
He claims the executives who rejected the pitch asked him, “What do we need you for?”
“And here we are all these years later, and they’re streaming the very show I was pitching to them,” Chappelle said. He then explained that he was able to get Netflix to pull the show simply by asking them to.
“When I found out they were streaming ‘Chappelle’s Show,’ I was furious,” he said. “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.”
The clip ends with Chappelle directly criticizing ViacomCBS, which owns Comedy Central, for what he says was an unfair deal. He conceded it’s possible that current executives could be unaware of the situation, as it happened over a decade ago, and encouraged them to go to the accounting department to see how much money “Chappelle’s Show” made compared to how much he was paid.
He then invites the corporation to work out a deal with him.
ViacomCBS, which also owns CBS News, did not respond to a request for comment.