Controversial comedian Dave Chappelle was attacked on-stage at the Hollywood Bowl comedy show in Los Angeles yesterday by a man police say was armed with a weapon.
Chappelle was performing during the “Netflix is a Joke” festival when a man jumped on stage and bowled him over. Police say the assailant was holding a fake gun with a real blade concealed inside of the toy.
Page Six reports the man was identified as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee and was arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon. He reportedly had a fake gun with a blade hidden inside it.
Only brief video clips of the incident and the aftermath exist because the audience had their phones locked in Yondr devices, which render the phone inaccessible during the performances, per Variety. However, from what we can see in the limited video footage available, Lee came rushing at Chappelle at full speed and tackled him by the waist. The footage cuts out quickly but a splashing of liquid can be seen, indicating Chappelle may have been holding a drink that went flying as he was attacked.
Another fan video shows a group of men on stage chasing and trying to tackle Lee, before comedian Chris Rock joins Chappelle and jokes into the microphone, “Was that Will Smith?” Rock was infamously slapped by the King Richard star at the Oscars in March, prompting the Academy to ban Smith from attending the Oscars for the next ten years.
British comedian Jimmy Carr is visible in that video, and he tweeted about the incident by posting a selfie with Chappelle, writing in part, “Just happy everyone’s ok.”
Another fan video shows Chappelle addressing the crowd directly after the video, thanking actor and comedian Jamie Foxx for helping him.
“Whenever you’re in trouble, Jamie Foxx will show up in a sheriff’s hat,” Chappelle joked on stage, to which Foxx replied, “I thought that was part of the show.”
“I don’t know if that was part of the show,” Chappelle replied. “I grabbed the back of that n****s head, his hair was spongy, absorbent.”
A few eyewitness accounts of the incident have appeared on social media. Buzzfeed reporter Briana Sacks tweeted a long thread that indicates there was little to no security at the show, and that it was members of the backstage entourage that tackled and “got his ass kicked” while still on stage.
She also tweeted a video of Lee being wheeled into the back of an ambulance, where it appears his shoulder and elbow are dislodged (don't watch it if you have a weak stomach for that kind of thing). He is heckled by the crowd as paramedics wheeled him into the emergency vehicle.
Last October, Chappelle caused major controversy with his Netflix special The Closer where he made jokes at the expense of the trans and LGBTQ+ community, which many called queer- and transphobic. It resulted in many Netflix workers staging a walk-out in protest of his show remaining on the streaming platform.