Dave Chappelle is coming back to TV, thanks to Netflix
Stand-up specials include new and previously filmed shows; not all release dates set yet.
Video-streaming services continue to push and shove each other in a battle for the most original programming. While each has its fair share of original TV series and feature-length films, Netflix has run away with the crown for at least one sub-genre of content: stand-up comedy. As if the service doesn’t already have enough stand-up specials, now Netflix is going all-in by inking a deal with Dave Chappelle.
The deal, announced very simply via a Tweet on Monday, appears to include three stand-up comedy specials, as opposed to any sketch-based programming like Chappelle’s popular Comedy Central series. According to a Variety report, two of those specials have already been taped and are sitting in Chappelle’s vault: one from an April 2015 performance at Austin City Limits Live and the other from March 2016 at the Hollywood Palladium.
Variety reports that those two will be released simultaneously at some point next year, while the third special will be a newly recorded performance with no scheduled Netflix release date.
The announcement follows Netflix’s exclusive deal with comedian Chris Rock in October for two of his own stand-up specials, the first of which will be taped sometime in 2017. This one-two punch of stand-up deals is particularly notable since these comedians exploded in part because of riotous, widely circulated stand-up specials that originally aired on HBO. Netflix is clearly gunning for the crown that HBO once held uncontested during the premium-cable era. And while that channel has held up pretty well in a video-streaming era, its stand-up output has become anemic in the past two years, with only Amy Schumer and Louis CK specials coming to HBO in 2016.
For the most part, Chappelle has been publicly silent since the dramatic end of his Comedy Central series ten years ago. His brief dalliance with social media ended in 2012 with an official Twitter sign-off, for example. Still, Chappelle remains an American cultural force, as evidenced by quick sell-outs of his few recent stand-up comedy tours and his brilliant return to sketch comedy in the first SNL episode that aired after the US presidential election. Chappelle’s tours have included strictly enforced rules about audience recordings and heckling (so YouTube can’t satiate fans ’til these specials arrive), but those restrictions didn’t stop a dirtbag attendee from throwing a banana at the comedian the week before his Austin City Limits special was filmed. We’ll have to wait until next year to see whether Chappelle’s jokes about the fruit-chucker made that Netflix special’s final reel.