After years of laying low, comedian Dave Chappelle is said to be preparing to launch a new show, reports The Daily. But the program won’t be on Comedy Central, this time around. In fact, it won’t be on cable at all. Instead, the next iteration of Chappelle-awesomeness is going to debut exclusively on a streaming service, like Netflix, Sony’s Crackle or NBC-owned Hulu, says a “plugged-in source.”
While no deal has yet been signed, the show is said to be an exclusive program from one of these three streaming services. Netflix has already begun to dip its fingers in original programming with director David Fincher’s “House of Cards,” a $100 million series set to air in late 2012. (“House of Cards” is not produced by Netflix. Instead, the company simply has exclusive rights to carry the show.) And both Crackle and Hulu have a variety of original shows streaming on their networks.
A move to a service like Netflix also makes particular sense for Chappelle, who publicly complained about having to fight for creative control of his show from corporate executives. At Netflix (or another such web-based service), Chappelle would likely have more freedom to choose the direction of his content.
Chappelle’s first show, “The Chappelle Show,” became a massive hit during its three-year run on Comedy Central. So successful was the sketch-comedy program that the Comedy Central offered Chappelle $50 million for another two years.
By the time the third season hit, however, Chappelle had begun to crumble. He reportedly walked off stage in 2004 after the crowd wouldn’t stop yelling, “I’m Rick James, bitch!” — a popular “Chappelle Show” catchphrase. Less than a year later, Chappelle fled production of his third season, and disappeared entirely, retreating to South Africa for a much-needed escape from the glare of fame and the new-found pressures of staggering wealth.
” I felt like some kind of prostitute or something,” Chappelle told Oprah after returning from his sabbatical. “If I feel so bad, why keep on showing up to this place? I’m going to Africa. The hardest thing to do is to be true to yourself, especially when everybody is watching.”
Chappelle is currently popping up here and there at comedy clubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. So if you can’t wait for Chappelle’s small-screen return, you can always try to get lucky and catch him there.