Last month, Netflix removed Chappelle’s Show from their service at the behest of Dave Chappelle himself. The beloved comedian has now asked HBO Max to pull the iconic sketch series from their library, and they’re granting his request.
In a lengthy Instagram video posted in late November, Chappelle explained that because of the contract he signed with ViacomCBS back when the show was made in the mid-2000s — years before streaming services even existed — he actually doesn’t see a penny of the money that ViacomCBS receives when it licenses the show out to companies like Netflix and HBO Max.
“They [ViacomCBS] didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract,” Chappelle said in the clip, which compiles footage from recent stand-up gigs. “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.”
When Chappelle aired these grievances about the contract and asked Netflix to take his show down last month, they obliged, and now HBO Max are following suit. Casey Bloys, chief content officer of HBO and HBO Max, broke the news during a keynote conversation at Variety’s Virtual FYCFest.
“We had a conversation with Dave. I won’t get into it, but it’s very clear that it’s a very unique and specific and emotional issue he’s got,” Bloys told Variety’s Daniel Holloway. “So at the end of the year, at the end of this year, December 31st, we’re going to honor his request and take the show down.”
In the same Instagram video, also made a scathing (and jaw-droppingly hilarious) callout to HBO Max. For context, Chappelle pitched Chappelle’s Show to HBO back in the day before taking it to Comedy Central, and got promptly rejected by the premium TV network.
“They said, literally, ‘What do we need you for?’ That’s what they told me as they kicked me out of the office, ‘What do we need you for?’” Chappelle recounted in the clip. “And here we are all these years later and they’re streaming the very show I was pitching to them. So I’m asking them, what do you need me for?” Revisit the full video below.
All of this bad blood toward ViacomCBS and the streaming companies first came to light during Chappelle’s SNL monologue back in early November. In one portion of the set, he drew parallels between his streaming rights situation and his great-grandfather, a former slave. “If he could see me now, he’d probably be like, ‘This n—- got bought and sold more than I have,” Chappelle said.
As noted above, Chappelle’s Show will remain on HBO Max until the end of 2020. Fans can also still watch the acclaimed program on Comedy Central and CBS All Access, though who knows how long the program will remain on the latter streaming service. Chappelle created, executive produced, and starred in the series, which ran for three seasons between 2003 and 2006.