Comedian Dave Chappelle attacked during LA show

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 05 2022 02:39 AM

Dave Chappelle attends a press conference at the 43rd annual Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018. Warren Toda, EPA-EFE/file
Dave Chappelle attends a press conference at the 43rd annual Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018. Warren Toda, EPA-EFE/file

A man armed with a replica gun that works like a knife tackled comedian Dave Chappelle as he performed a stand-up set in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, police said.

Video footage circulating on social media shows that as the comedian was finishing a set during the "Netflix Is A Joke" comedy festival at the Hollywood Bowl, a male audience member climbed on stage and threw him to the ground.

The attacker then ran behind a screen on stage and was detained by security guards. Chappelle, 48, has recently attracted protests for jokes seen to be transphobic but the motive for this attack was not immediately known. Chappelle was not injured.

The Los Angeles police department confirmed the incident to AFP and said the assailant was carrying a replica gun that can discharge a knife blade. It was not clear if the attacker tried to use this weapon.

He has been identified as Isaiah Lee, 23, and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, LAPD spokeswoman Lizeth Lomeli said.

Asked what his motive might be, she said this was part of the police investigation.

Video footage shows the attacker being taken away on a stretcher. The man was taken to a hospital for treatment, Lomeli said.

Brianna Sacks, a Buzzfeed reporter who said she was at the show, tweeted that the attacker was set upon by at least 10 people as he was being detained by security guards.

Chappelle, winner of the 2019 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, has been accused of taking particular aim at the transgender community in his comedy specials, notably in October's "The Closer," which drew protests by activists who said it encouraged discrimination.

In March, US comedian Chris Rock was assaulted by actor Will Smith on stage at the Oscars for making a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, moments earlier. 

After the assault Tuesday night, Rock, who was appearing at the same venue, appeared with Chappelle on stage and -- according to CNBC and other news outlets -- quipped: "Was that Will Smith?"