The last time Dave Chappelle dropped a new late-night set on Instagram, he was calling on fans to boycott his iconic sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show on streaming because he wasn’t being properly compensated. Apparently, it worked.
In a new video titled “Redemption Song” posted early Friday morning, Chappelle announced from the stage at his current residency at Stubb’s in Austin, Texas, that his show is officially back on Netflix and this time he’s getting paid.
But before he got to that news, the comedian also addressed his recent COVID-19 diagnosis and shared his thoughts on the Trump-fueled rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol last month.
“When a hero stumbles, well the cowards rejoice,” he began. In this formulation, Chappelle was the “hero” and the “cowards” were those who criticized him for finally catching the virus after tempting fate with outdoor live shows over the course of the past year—including the one in which he delivered his searing “8:46” commentary on George Floyd’s murder last June.
As the comic explained, he spoke to someone in the entertainment business early on in the pandemic who predicted live performance would not return until sometime in 2022. “There’s no fucking way I can wait that long,” he remembered saying. So first in his home state of Ohio and now down in Texas, he has been setting up live comedy shows with fellow comedians and friends like Michelle Wolf and Joe Rogan that have been as COVID-safe as possible with mask mandates and social distancing.
“I tried,” Chappelle said. “And after all these months and after doing all these shows, goddammit my number was up and then I had the ’rona!” Pivoting back to his critics, he said, “Cowards rejoice at a time like this because they’re so invested in being afraid.”
While the “overwhelming majority” of people wished him well, there was a faction of “cowards,” who said, “You see that, Dave Chappelle? That’s why we stay inside where it’s safe and we never try anything,” he said.
“Well, enjoy yourselves, motherfuckers, because I’m better now!” he shot back.
From there, Chappelle moved on to his disgust with the American citizens who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. “Watch the tapes,” he said. “Watch that crowd that told Colin Kaepernick he can’t kneel during a football game try to beat a police officer to death with an American flag.”
As he put it, these white terrorists “felt what Black people have been feeling for 400 years for 30 minutes, stormed the Capitol and rubbed their shit on the walls! They carried a Confederate flag through the rotunda! The Confederate army didn’t even do that, motherfuckers, you went very far!”
For Chappelle, it all goes back to the “very basic wrong, they kidnapped us, they brought us here, they treated us like shit and all the time that they did that they were afraid that we would do what you would do in the same situation. But did we storm the halls of the Capitol and rub our shit on the walls? Well of course not.” Then came the punchline: “If that would have worked, we would have tried it!”
All of this brought him around to his own fight to take back the rights to his intellectual property from Comedy Central. Instead of appealing to the media bigwigs at Viacom, Chappelle decided to appeal to his “real boss,” the audience, and asked them to stop streaming the show.
“You made that show worthless,” he said. “Because without your eyes, it’s nothing. And when you stopped watching it, they called him. And I got my name back.” Oh, and also “millions of dollars.”
So now, after Chappelle’s Show was removed from both HBO Max and Netflix at the end of last year, it is back on Netflix as of Friday, Feb. 12. “And finally, after all these years, I can finally say to Comedy Central, it’s been a pleasure doing business with you,” he concluded as “Happy Days Are Here Again” played over a montage of his show’s most iconic moments.
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