Netflix says they "strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage" after a man attacked Dave Chappelle onstage at the Netflix Is a Joke festival in Los Angeles Tuesday night. The video of the incident went viral on social media. Chappelle, 48, was tackled to the ground by an audience member as he was leaving the stage after his performance, according to a press release from the Los Angeles Police Department.
NBC News Los Angeles reports that police have taken the attacker into custody after his onstage disturbance. According to officials, Isaiah Lee was reportedly armed with a replica gun and a knife blade that ejected when he discharged it correctly. The 23-year-old has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and held on $30,000 bail, The Los Angeles Times reports. Police said Chappelle was not injured in the attack, and a motive has not been released. When asked about Dave Chappelle's assault during his Netflix Is a Joke festival set, a Netflix spokesperson told Vanity Fair, "We care deeply about the safety of creators and we strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage without fear of violence."
Buzzfeed News reporter Briana Sacks said the comedian had previously spoken about how he recently strengthened his security in a tweet. "What is really surreal about this is that Chappelle talked about Chris Rock and the slap/new reality facing comedians/having more security with him and his wife being worried about him now," Sacks wrote. The attacker appears to be holding his elbow at a twisted angle in footage of his removal. According to the reporter, Rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli performed while police escorted the man away.
Despite the attack, Chappelle appeared to recover and continued to perform. In a video posted to social media, the comedian joked about his attacker being "a trans man," referring to the backlash over jokes Chappelle told about trans people in his 2021 Netflix special, The Closer. Chris Rock, who performed earlier in the evening, joined Chappelle onstage. "Was that Will Smith?" he appeared to wonder in the clip.ABC News producer Stephanie Wash also reported the line on Twitter.
Chris rock after Dave Chappelle get attacked on stage “is that will smith “😂 pic.twitter.com/hw4PWZWC6y— abdulaziz (@abdulaziz0m) May 4, 2022
Another clip shows fellow comedian Jamie Foxx standing on stage with Chappelle during his curtain call. "Whenever you're in trouble, Jamie Foxx will show up in a sheriff's hat," Chappelle joked. Foxx later told the audience, "Listen, I just want to say, this man is an absolute genius. We've got to make sure we protect him at all times…. We're not going to let nothing happen to you."
In a statement issued Wednesday, the comedian's rep Carla Sims said Chappelle "refuses to allow last night's incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment."Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music, setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl," Sims said."As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show." Netflix indicates that this was Chappelle's last scheduled performance at the festival.