Dave Chappelle on Getting the Rights to "Chappelle's Show"

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Dave Chappelle

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Dave Chappelle is a comedian, actor, writer, and producer. He is the recipient of multiple honors, among them the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and several Grammy Awards. He's the co-host, along with Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey, of "The Midnight Miracle" podcast, scheduled to release in May.

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So first of all man, congratulations. You're the first guy to beat the system. You're the first guy to get fucked over by the system, go public with it, and then get your money. I've never heard it happen before. I don't think it's ever happened before. Bro, bro, I still can't wrap my mind around it, but I do have to shout out Chris McCarthy over at CBS Fire Come. That guy, you know, when we were working this out, his approach with someone was actually trying to resolve something. Came through. It was amazing, man. It's amazing, it's a happy ending. Because usually those artist gripes, they never get resolved, not to where the artist feels comfortable or happy with it. They always feel bitter and angry, they got fucked over, and someone else is a producer, and they're making millions of dollars off of your work, and they continue to sell it and make money off of it. Well I could say, with a high degree of honesty, not to say I was never angry about it, but I don't think I was ever bitter. By this point in my life, I wasn't bitter. You would joke about it. You were angry about it, but not to the point where it fucked with your head, but you would joke about it. Well I mean, you know the bottom line is no matter what happens to you, you gotta keep going. You gotta keep going. And bitterness is quite cumbersome. Yeah, it's bad for you. Right, so jokes is a way of shaking that off, or processing something with the alchemy of levity. Yeah, holding grudges, bitterness, shit's very bad for you, it doesn't ever help. No, and now we're getting on in age, you know what I mean, when we were younger, this is a final hold of grudge. You didn't realize how, you know. Didn't realize it was fucking with you. What is that expression, it's about jealousy, the jealousy is the only poison that affects the container that's holding it? Right, that's exactly right. But bitterness, the same thing. Same thing. Yeah, it's not good. Yeah, it's just not good for you. You gotta be able to let shit go. Yeah, I mean. But, in your case, you made a ploy. Like you said what happened, how you felt about it, and they were like, he's right. I think, yeah. Let's give him the money. It wasn't a court of law, I don't believe I would've got anything in a court of law. I think in a court of public opinion, it was a good time for me to say my peace. And through the years, it wasn't something that I would harp on. I did interviews and stuff, people would always ask me about it, but it was something I was actually reluctant to talk about. Yeah, well it's hard for other people to relate to this idea that you want more money. You're talking about regular people, and you're saying this thing, even though it is yours, it's hard for people. Money is, if you look at life, anything in life, through the framework of money, you'll miss most of the picture. Yeah. And in business, especially at this stage in our careers, you realize through the years, people playing incentives. You know what I mean? If the incentive is a certain way, that's the way they're gonna behave. So what they want is never really surprising. How they get there is where all the surprises are. So I feel like I can forgive somebody for playing an incentive. It's disappointing, but what was so remarkable when I walked away from the show, right, is that it was against incentive. So people couldn't understand it at the time. It was so much money, how could you do that, and blah, blah, blah, but you know, if I had taken that money and finished the show, I would've got the money, but I might never have been the same. I think it was one of the most gangster moves in the history of entertainment. But you got it. And it made you a legend, and the fact that you then started doing shows like, I heard Dave's doing a show in the park in Seattle. He's got a box, he pulls out a speaker, and just starts doing stand-up. That was important, yeah. I, because in that sense, it was freeing. Yeah. Something about, you know, I was geared a certain way growing up, because I wanted to make it in show business. And boy, that shit fell all the way apart. And as far as I knew, my career was over. So where'd you go from there? Yeah, but your career wasn't over. You just decided you were gonna just sort of lay back for a while. In hindsight, yeah. But when it was happening. You really felt like it was over. I'd never seen these things before. I didn't see anyone else do this and get back up. I didn't see, you know, and the drum beat is, he's crazy, he smokes crackers, this, he's that. It was a wild experience. The way people close to you react to it. Like I had failed or I had ruined my life. You know, and then, you know, when you're cold, that phone don't ring that often. Right. And then I had over a decade of sitting in that choice, but I didn't languish in just that experience. I started doing standup for much better reasons than making it. I still enjoyed it. I started seeing the places where I was performing. Normally when you're like successful in comedy, you know, you get off the plane or the bus, you do the hit, you go back to the hotel, you get back on the bus, you don't really see anything. You don't really, like even now, like this last run we did here in Austin, we was here for weeks. And then I got to see Austin. I got to find restaurants. I'm like, I'm at people that I probably call because I'm in town, stuff like that. And it was like that all over the world, not just the country. I started going around just seeing the world. I got overwhelmed with this idea that none of my information was firsthand. I just read it in books or heard it from friends and I was eager to just see something for myself. And I kind of entrenched this philosophy that my memories are some of the most valuable things that I have, these firsthand experiences. Can't take that away from if I reminisce on a nice day, then you know, it feeds you. Remembering something is neurologically almost identical I've read to experiencing it. Any information is valuable. I call it the expensive knowledge, right? It's like your buddy that's a war veteran or something. You don't want to know the shit he knows if you knew what he had to do to know these things. That's what they call expensive knowledge. I would not recommend quitting your show the way I did. If you can avoid it. Yeah. The way you did it was so cool. Cause you know, you kind of drift it off. I promise I wasn't trying to be cool. It was a series of troubleshooting. It was like, fuck it, man. Like, what are you gonna do? You gotta, whatever you go through, you gotta live. You gotta make a way and find your happiness. And you know, I'm lucky. I'm in show business, which is a pretty, it's a multi-dimensional career path. This thing could go a lot of ways. Yeah. Especially today. Oh my God. Yeah, and another time would I have ever gotten that money? I don't think so. No, because there would have been no social media, no pressure. Right, no dropping specials on the gram. No comment section, no move on dot org, no. And if you had gone to say like the Tonight Show and made a pitch like that, they probably wouldn't even have aired it. No, of course not. I had a gripe with someone that owned a six of the media. Yeah. What am I gonna do, tell the media on them? It's never gonna work. Right, they would definitely edit that part out. Be like, why is Dave's section only four minutes long? Yeah, edit it, spin it, whatever it is they do. But again, all parties involved, I thought in repairing that situation and I don't wanna go all into what those conversations were like other than to say, and this is not like I'm just happy because they paid me. It was classic. It was like. That's beautiful. It really was. It was very encouraging. That is very encouraging. I think that coming up behind us, these kids are gonna be playing in a whole new ballgame that we did. Catch new episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience for free, only on Spotify. Watch back catalog JRE videos on Spotify, including clips, easily, seamlessly switch between video and audio experience. On Spotify, you can listen to the JRE in the background while using other apps and can download episodes to save on data costs all for free. Spotify is absolutely free. You don't have to have a premium account to watch new JRE episodes. You just need to search for the JRE on your Spotify app. Go to Spotify now to get this full episode of the Joe Rogan Experience.