Dave Chappelle, Joe Rogan & Bill Maher: Just Old Men Yelling at Clouds

In a Bloomberg news report, leaked Netflix documents show Dave Chappelle's 2019 stand-up special Sticks and Stones cost the streamer $23.6M, while 2021's The Closer hit the streamer for $24.1M. The report also showed Sticks and Stones cost Netflix more than the value created (with an "impact value" of just $19.4M). When the streamer factored in the special's reach against its cost, its "efficiency" score was just 0.8- below the 1.0 break-even score. In September 2021, it was announced that WarnerMedia-owned cable giant HBO had extended Bill Maher's contract to host Real Time with Bill Maher for two more seasons, extending the 2003-premiering late-night talk show through 2024. In late 2020, Joe Rogan signed a deal with Spotify worth reportedly $100M. The deal saw the platform become the exclusive home for Rogan's podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.

So can someone answer something for me? If "cancel culture" exists and Chappelle, Maher & Rogan are supposed "victims" of it, then why are we seeing & hearing from them now more than ever, and how are they making sweet, sweet money off of it? I thought "cancel culture" was supposed to be a career-killer from which there was no coming back… right?

I guess what I'm really asking is, "Can someone please hurry the f**k up and 'cancel' me, then?"

Now for all of you out there reading this who hang on every word that those false prophets of free speech like to spew out like its the gospel brought down from the mountain tops by Xenu, it's time someone broke the news to you.

You're being f***ing played.

Because it's not "cancel culture" that Chappelle, Maher & Rogan are raging against. It's time. See, there's nothing more destructively annoying than an unchecked male ego that becomes self-aware of its own obsolescence. And goddamn, do we have that in play with these three. Con men "Don Quixotes" who've convinced their followers that the windmills really are dragons but that they can "save the day." Just as long as you keep buying (and buying into) their shit.

Chappelle, Joe Rogen & Bill Maher: Just Old Men Yelling at Clouds
Image: Screencaps

Maher was able to parlay being a white guy who says wacky things on late-night broadcast television to being a white guy with a staff of writers, researchers, and assistants who help him say wacky things on late-night premium cable. Maher suffers from "did-my-time-itis," a malady found in some white folks who feel they've done their time being "woke" before "woke" was a thing so that entitles them to certain liberties that younger generations don't get. At least that's what Maher thought until Ice Cube "corrected" him about his entitled use of the N-word. It also convinces them that the current state of affairs is completely the fault of younger generations and that everything from their time was better than Disneyland if it had Woodstock and Studio 54 going on inside (now there's a visual). Oh, and they never feel like they're given enough respect for their "struggles" over the years. In his defense, he has carved out a nice little late-night kingdom for himself over on HBO and surrounded himself with a team that I'm sure is fully committed to "Team Bill," so can you really blame him for feeling like he deserves more respect? We're talking about the man who played Elmo Bunn in 1991's "Pizza Man," people!

With Chappelle, I have to quote Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) from Jackie Brown: "What the f**k happened to you, man? Sh*t, your ass used to be beautiful!". As much as I could from a personal perspective, I understood why he needed to walk away from Comedy Central and public performing to go on a walkabout to get his shit together. What I don't respect is the Chappelle that we have now, who rants under the guise of "stand-up" against a society he feels has f**ked him over for not waiting for him to return and welcoming his comedy back with open arms like they did when Chappelle's Show was last on the air. A quick reminder? That was f**king 2006, making it 15 years- which in terms of pop culture & entertainment time might as well be a hundred years.

Didn't he think that folks would get tired of always being the targets of jokes without ever getting the chance to be in front of the cameras themselves? Well, they did- and social media gave them a much bigger microphone to have their voices heard. Now just to be clear, Chappelle doesn't see that as a bad thing- just as long as it doesn't impact his act. Because whatever you found funny in 2005, you damn well better still find funny in 2021 or you're just too uptight and too sensitive, dammit! It's like actors in silent films getting pissed because moviegoers realized they wanted to hear bastards on the screen talk rather than just read every film. Chappelle acts as if he's owed the kind of audience he had back before he decided to walk away, and now we're seeing what we get when those expectations get left unfulfilled.

Image: Screencap

Now someone's really going to have to explain to me how a master of mediocrity like Joe Rogan has gotten to such a position of power that Aaron Rodgers is getting COVID advice from him? He was average on NewsRadio & horrible on The Man Show, announces UFC like he's auditioning for the WWE, and was an above-average stand-up comedian whose biggest claims to fame appear to be as a host of a reality contest show where people eat dung beetles and calling out other stand-up comics for stealing jokes. And yet he has one of the biggest podcasts going, and no matter how high the utter bulls**t levels get his listeners just can't get enough- even when he has no f***ing clue what he's talking about. And the would-be-funny-if-it-wasn't-so-f**king-sad part of this is that lately, even Rogan comes off as if he seems surprised by his success- and looking a bit uncomfortable with the idea that with success comes accountability.

In other words, people are calling him out more for his shit because it's one thing to be talking "crazy cures" while high with your friends in a diner booth at 3 am. It's quite another when you're doing it into a mic for millions to hear. And I'm not talking about trying to pull off being "humble" and PR crap like that. No, Rogan's been coming across more and more like someone with a look on his face that reads, "Holy s**t, isn't anyone going to call me out on this?", like he's expecting someone to come up from behind and pull off his trenchcoat to reveal that he's nothing more than three six-year-old boys standing on each other's shoulders. And yet, the dude that even Andy Dick was funnier than gets to speak to millions every month to share whatever tinfoil hat theory hits first on his Google search- a cautionary tale of how a little bit of talent combined with a lot of privilege with some "dudebro" sprinkled on top can go a helluva long way.

So the next time you feel like giving up any of your precious time, money, or ability to think for yourselves, ask yourselves when was the last time a "rebellion" was bought and paid for by The Establishment? Chappelle's got Netflix. Maher's got WarnerMedia. Rogan's got Spotify. They're getting paid. You're getting screwed.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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