The attack happened at the Netflix Is a Joke festival in Hollywood.
Dave Chappelle was attacked during a performance on Tuesday night by a man in the crowd. The attacker, who has been identified as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, was armed with a fake gun that could discharge a knife blade. According to reports, and videos posted to Twitter from fellow attendees, Lee stormed the stage at the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater in Los Angeles near the end of Chappelle’s Netflix Is a Joke festival “Dave Chappelle and Friends.” Per NBC News, an LAPD spokesperson said that Lee is being charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon and is being held with bail set at $30,000.
While Lee did appear to get one good lunge in at Chappelle, the controversial comedian did not sustain any injuries, and security quickly detained Lee. Reports are surfacing from the event, however, stating that people in non-security uniforms were kicking and punching Lee after he was pulled off of Chappelle, ending in Lee being taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Brianna Sacks, a Buzzfeed News reporter who witnessed the incident, said in a Twitter thread that Lee “got his ass kicked by at least 10 people.”
The bizarre incident occurred as Chappelle was trying to bring friends and his Midnight Miracle podcast cohosts Talib Kweli and Mos Def on stage. Chris Rock also performed that night, and after Lee was taken off stage, he joked, “Was that Will Smith?” He was referring to this year’s Oscars ceremony, when Smith slapped Rock in the face after he said a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The viral incident has left many comics on high alert for this kind of behavior, and Chappelle had even discussed how he’d upped his security during his set.
Chappelle might have better reason than most comics for taking more precautions though. His most recent special, The Closer, was the latest in a series of specials that were criticized for being offensive to the trans community — even leading to employee walkouts at Netflix, which streamed the taping. Chappelle said at the end of The Closer that he wouldn’t make jokes about trans people anymore, but he got in another dig on Tuesday night. “It was a trans man,” he joked from side stage as Lee was beaten up.
Jamie Foxx, who according to Deadline came to Chappelle’s defense during the attack while wearing a sheriff’s hat, came back on stage after the altercation to say, “This man is an absolute genius. We’ve got to make sure we protect him at all times. For every comedian that comes out here, man, this means everything. You’re a genius. You’re a legend. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and we’re not going to let nothing happen to you.”