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Dave Chappelle ‘refusing to allow on-stage attack to overshadow historic moment’

Dave Chappelle (Lester Cohen/Netflix)
Dave Chappelle (Lester Cohen/Netflix)

Dave Chappelle is refusing to allow an attack on him during an event at the Hollywood Bowl to overshadow “the magic of the historic moment” after setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the venue, a spokesperson said.

Chappelle, 48, was performing at the Los Angeles venue on Tuesday night as part of the Netflix Is A Joke festival when he was “tackled” and sent “flying in the air”, according to a witness.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said 23-year-old Isaiah Lee has been arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and taken into custody following the incident.

The Graham Norton Show
Chris Rock also performed during the show (Ian West/PA)

A statement by Carla Sims, a spokesperson for Chappelle, said: “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, and he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment.”

She added that as “unfortunate and unsettling” as the incident was, Chappelle carried on with the show by introducing the last musical guests for the evening, hip hop duo Black Star.

The statement also noted that Chappelle is “fully co-operating with the active police investigation into this incident”.

The incident happened as Chappelle was closing the show and thanking the comedians who had performed before him, including Chris Rock, Leslie Jones and Jon Stewart.

Hollywood star Jamie Foxx, a close friend of Chappelle, came on stage to check the comic was OK, before reportedly helping to apprehend the alleged attacker.

Video posted on social media appeared to show a man, reported by US media outlets to be the suspected attacker, with a badly injured arm being put in an ambulance.

Speaking about the attack, an LAPD spokeswoman said: “A famous comedian was performing at the Hollywood Bowl and when he finished his act a male jumped on to the stage and tackled the celebrity.

“The suspect produced a replica handgun and pointed the item at the victim. He was taken into custody and was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.”

A spokeswoman for the Hollywood Bowl also confirmed an investigation had been launched into the incident.

British comedian Jimmy Carr was among those at the show and he expressed his relief that nobody was seriously injured.

Sharing a selfie taken with Chappelle, he tweeted: “The Hollywood Bowl show with the legendary Dave Chappelle was crazy. Just happy everyone’s ok.”

The fracas also comes after Rock was slapped by Will Smith while on stage at the Oscars, prompting some members of the comedy community to question whether it remains safe to perform publicly.

Comedian and TV presenter Paddy McGuinness said that in his opinion the attack on Chappelle was a “direct result” of Smith hitting Rock at the Oscars, adding: “Only thing I’m surprised about is it’s taken a div that long to copy it?”

Chappelle has previously faced a backlash over comments about transgender people in his Netflix comedy special The Closer.

The comedian said “gender is a fact” and gave his backing to JK Rowling, who has also attracted criticism for her remarks about the concept of biological sex.

Netflix employees were said to have reacted with anger to his comments and reportedly organised a walkout over the streaming giant’s decision to air the special.

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