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Dave Chappelle does not want the audience member who assaulted him onstage to distract from his history-making run at the Hollywood Bowl.
“The performances by Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl were epic and record-breaking and he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment,” his rep, Carla Sims, said in a statement on Wednesday to The Hollywood Reporter. “Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music, setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl. This run ties Chappelle with Monty Python for the most headlined shows by any comedian at the Hollywood Bowl, reaching 70,000 fans of diverse backgrounds during the first Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival.”
The comedian was assaulted during his Netflix Is a Joke Fest set at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday around 10:40 p.m. local time when a man rushed the stage and tackled him to the floor. Chappelle had finished his act and was exiting the stage, the LAPD said in an updated statement on Wednesday, when the audience member jumped onto the stage, tackled the comedian and pointed a replica handgun at Chappelle. Security separated the audience member from Chappelle and took him into custody.
It wasn’t immediately clear if there was an attempt to discharge the weapon, but authorities confirmed Chappelle was not physically injured in the incident.
The suspect, later identified as Isaiah Lee, 23, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, transported to a local hospital where he was treated for injuries sustained during the altercation with security, and is currently being held on $30,000 bail.
Chappelle is fully cooperating with the active police investigation.
“As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was,” continued his rep in the statement, “Chappelle went on with the show. Jamie Foxx and Chris Rock helped calm the crowd with humor before Chappelle introduced the last and featured musical guests for the evening, hip-hop artists yasiin bey and Talib Kweli, aka Black Star, who performed music from their new album — the first in nearly 24 years — which was released on Luminary. Other special comedic guests last night included Earthquake, Leslie Jones, Jeff Ross, Sebastian, Jon Stewart and Michelle Wolf.”
Netflix added in a statement: “We care deeply about the safety of creators and we strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage without fear of violence.”
Attendees had captured the moment on social media, with footage showing the man being dragged away by security and Chappelle regaining his composure shortly after the attack by saying, “It was a trans man.” (The line is a reference to his ongoing controversy surrounding his material being called transphobic.)
Chappelle was performing as part of Netflix’s 11-day stand-up comedy festival, which features 130 comics across 25 Los Angeles venues and big names such as Seth Rogen, Chelsea Handler, Aziz Ansari, Bill Burr and Conan O’Brien.
The onstage attack comes weeks after Will Smith unexpectedly took to the Oscars stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock. The shocking incident has had numerous career repercussions for Smith, who resigned from the Film Academy but was still banned from the Academy Awards for 10 years. The moment also sparked a national dialogue around the safety of comics.
Another recent onstage security breach occurred at CinemaCon, when actress-director Olivia Wilde was served custody papers from ex Jason Sudeikis while presenting her upcoming movie Don’t Worry Darling.
Attendees at Chappelle’s Tuesday night show were required to check their cellphones in Yondr pouches to create a “phone-free experience”; it’s unclear how some attendees were able to record the incident.
Tuesday night’s event was Chappelle’s fourth night at the Hollywood Bowl, where he’s been performing with various comedians and musicians and was the fest’s opening night headliner on April 28. At that earlier show, guests had to go through security and metal detectors on the way inside.
When reached by THR, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which operates the Hollywood Bowl, was unable to comment about the incident amid the active investigation.
May 4, 1:20 p.m. Updated to include LAPD statement details.
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