Netflix, Comedy Central, And How Dave Chappelle Changed The Game
Dave Chappelle is probably the only comedian who had to urge his fans not to stream his show. The saga of how the artist changed the game by pushing Netflix and Comedy Central is noteworthy.
David Khari Webber Chappelle was born in Washington DC in 1973. Dave grew up in a highly educated family. His parents were professors, and his grandfather was the President of Allen University. This could be one reason why he is so woken up to current issues and likes incorporating them in his acts. The comedian graduated from Duke Ellington School of the Art after having studied theatre. Even as a child, Dave was fond of delivering monologues and had aspirations of becoming a stand-up comedian someday. Little did he know that this journey was going to be a rough one.
He’s been appreciated for his take on poignant topics and relevant issues, although Dave had the most difficult time of his life when he felt exploited by Netflix and Comedy Central.
Here is the story of how he stood up for his rights and changed the game.
The Course of His Career
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Chappelle was fully invested in landing a job as a stand-up comedian, which is why he moved to New York right after finishing high school. When he began performing at Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night, he was often criticized offstage. But the comedian did not give up, and soon enough, he was a big deal in the New York Comedy circuit.
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One of his first breakthroughs was with HBO’s Def Comedy Jam in 1992, and it turned things around. Eventually, Dave became a reputed guest on late-night comedy circuit shows such as the Howard Stern Show, Late Show with David Letterman, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. At the early age of 19, he got the chance to open for Aretha Franklin, which also opened doors to his acting career. In 2003, the comedian launched his series called the Chappelle Show on Comedy Central.
Rift with Comedy Central
In the beginning, Dave was gaining a lot of critical acclaim and appreciation for his show on Comedy Central. The show ran successfully for two seasons, winning two Emmys, after which the star decided to leave it. By then, three episodes for the third season had already been shot, and Comedy Central aired them even after Chappelle had left.
The comedian was not happy with his show’s direction and felt overworked day in and day out. Finally, he decided he could not go on with a creative endeavor while hating his job. By then, he had already signed a $50 million contract with Comedy Central, which legalized them to air his show even after he had left and which eventually deprived him of the royalties in the later years.
The best that Dave could do at this point was to urge his fans to boycott his show as he was not getting paid for it. Comedy Central had also licensed Netflix and HBO Max to air the show without Chapelle’s knowledge. The star often goes back to the contract he had signed, saying he was young and naïve then and desperate for money as he was expecting a child.
He told The Washington Post that getting away from Comedy Central was like an informal divorce where you leave one day because you can’t go on anymore. When David Letterman asked him about losing a huge sum of money in the process, he owned up to feeling the difference in the quality of life worth $10 million and a life worth $50 million. Although he has regretted not having made that money, he still thinks it was a justified decision as he claims to have gotten his life back.
Rift with Netflix
Chappelle reportedly called up Netflix to articulate his misgivings about streaming his show without his knowledge or offering him a payment. Netflix had already streamed his show for a month but agreed to take it down at his request, although it still kept streaming on HBO max.
On February 12th of this year, Chappelle announced that his show would be back on Netflix. According to ew.com, in the same video clip, he expressed his regard for Netflix’s Co-CEO Ted Sarandos for having taken down his show’s episodes last time. He also thanked his fans for not watching his show on this platform as it put enough pressure on the company to pay him millions for his job. Dave talked about the November 2016 deal that he finally got with Netflix to stream three stand-up acts for which he was paid a sumptuous $60 million.
Chappelle is a force to be reckoned with and has outspoken about every current social issue. He is also outspoken about political issues like the Capitol Riot and the hate crimes against the African American community. But most importantly, he is a burning inspiration to every artist in his field when it comes to standing up for one’s integrity and self-rights.
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Source: ew.com, The Washington Post, dcnitelife.com, npr.org.
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