Los Angeles police have arrested the man who attacked comedian Dave Chappelle onstage during the “Netflix is a Joke” festival. Isaiah Lee, 23, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after Los Angeles police alleged he jumped onstage at the Hollywood Bowl, pointed a replica gun with a knife blade and tackled Chappelle. Police are still investigating a possible motive.
The attack was recorded on video by audience members who smuggled cell phones into the scene. Witnesses say that during his stand-up performance, the comedian opened up about the recent Oscars incident in which Best Actor winner Will Smith slapped host Chris Rock over a joke about his wife’s hair. Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences investigated the incident and banned Smith from participating in all its events, virtually or in person, for 10 years.
During his routine, Chappelle reportedly said that both Smith’s and Rock’s actions had resonated with him. Some audience members also posted a video of Chappelle being joined onstage later by actor Jamie Foxx and comedian Chris Rock, another festival performer. “That was Will Smith?” Rock asked, as the audience laughed.
Chappelle appeared unharmed and continued his set, joking that his attacker “was a trans man.” Earlier on set, he said that he felt attacked by transgender people who criticized past material of him as transphobic. For example, in his Netflix special “The Closer” last October, Chappelle joked about trans women and their genitalia.
Witnesses say Chappelle disappeared from sight at one point during his routine. When he came back, he said, “I’ve been doing this for 35 years. I just stomped on a [n-word] backstage, I always wanted to do that,” apparently referring to her attacker.
LAPD did not release many details about the suspect; they say Lee was injured while being detained by security guards. He was seen leaving the Hollywood Bowl on a stretcher, apparently with injuries, and being booed by Chappelle’s fans. He received medical treatment and remains behind bars in the Hollywood Jail on $30,000 bond.
This is not the first incident in Hollywood since the “slap heard around the world” at the Academy Awards. In March, a man reportedly pulled a gun at a Hollywood comedy club attended by former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. In that case, the club’s patron allegedly said it was a joke, not a threat, and told Tyson that he was a fan. The former boxer is said to have responded with a handshake and a hug.