Dave Chappelle: Man charged over on-stage attack with replica gun and knife

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Image caption,
Dave Chappelle was performing at the Netflix Is A Joke Festival

A man has been charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon after an on-stage attack on US comedian Dave Chappelle.

The suspect pointed a replica handgun that contained a knife blade at Chappelle, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said.

Chappelle was unharmed, but the suspect has been taken to a local hospital for medical treatment.

The incident took place while Chappelle was performing at the Hollywood Bowl.

Clips shared on social media showed someone charging into the star during his set at the Netflix Is A Joke Festival on Tuesday.

The 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."

The LAPD identified the suspect as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, who is being held in jail on a $30,000 (£24,000) bond.

Last year, Chappelle faced criticism and protests when his Netflix special was accused of being transphobic.

After returning to the stage on Tuesday, the 48-year-old appeared to make light of the controversy, suggesting to the audience that the attacker "was a trans man".

According to ABC journalist Stephanie Wash, fellow comic Chris Rock - who was slapped on stage by Will Smith at the Oscars in March - then came on stage with Chappelle.

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US-based British journalist Sharon Carpenter, who was also in attendance, said actor and singer Jamie Foxx joined Chappelle too.

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Carpenter told the PA news agency an attacker "lunged" at the comedian as he headlined the event, sending him "flying in the air".

She said: "It looked like someone was dashing across the stage from the side. He fell backwards on to his back, with his arms and legs up in the air. He was obviously in shock. We were all in shock.

"I thought for a moment OK, is this a prank? Because they had made some Will Smith jokes. Even though Chris Rock was there, Dave was making some jokes, it was fair game, right?"

'Unfortunate and unsettling'

In one video, Chappelle could be seen thanking his famous friends for helping out, saying: "Whenever you're in trouble, Jamie Foxx will show up in a sheriff's hat."

"I thought that was part of the show," Foxx responded.

Chappelle joked: "I've been doing this 35 years. I just stomped a [person] backstage. I've always wanted to do that."

Chappelle's spokesperson, Carla Sims, said afterwards: "As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show, crediting Rock and Foxx with helping to "calm the crowd."

'Crazy' show

Jimmy Carr, the British comedian who sparked outrage earlier this year for a routine about the Holocaust in his own Netflix stand-up special, also performed at the streaming giant's event on Tuesday.

Carr tweeted afterwards to say the show was "crazy" and he was "just happy everyone's OK".

A spokeswoman for the Hollywood Bowl said an investigation has been launched, telling PA: "The incident that occurred at the Hollywood Bowl on May 3 2022 is an active investigation and we are unable to comment further at this time."

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Image caption,
Dave Chappelle alongside fellow comedian Jerry Seinfeld on Sunday, at a lunchtime event for the Netflix Is A Joke Festival

In October, about 100 people protested outside Netflix's headquarters over the airing of a comedy special by Chappelle, which they said was transphobic.

They had objected to The Closer, in which he said "gender is a fact" and that LGBT people were "too sensitive".

Chappelle later hit back at those who he said wanted to "cancel" him. "To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience," he said. "But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody's demands."

The likes of Seth Rogen, Snoop Dogg, Bill Burr and Pete Davidson are also starring at Netflix's inaugural comedy festival, as well as Jerry Seinfeld and recent Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes.

Tuesday's incident came five weeks after Smith famously slapped Rock on stage at the Academy Awards after Rock made a joke about the actor's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

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