Netflix’s pandemic-delayed comedy festival, Netflix Is A Joke, is finally taking place this week at many venues around Los Angeles. And up until yesterday, I would have told you the big story coming out of the fest was about how overbooked it is and how many comedians are scraping to sell tickets and bitching about it, but in the wee hours of Wednesday, word got out that while Dave Chappelle was performing at the Hollywood Bowl, a man ran on stage and tackled him. You can see it here:
Dave Chappelle just got attacked on stage— Hoodville (@Hoodville_) May 4, 2022
Because we live in the darkest and stupidest timeline, Chris Rock was on hand and took the stage later and said, “Will, was that you?”
Seeing Dave Chappelle get attacked by somebody from the audience then seeing the dude get jumped by Dave Chappelle and his crew gotta be the wildest live show iâ€™ve ever seen. Chris Rock even came on stage, embraced Dave, grabbed the mic, and said â€œWill was that you?!â€ ðŸ¤£ðŸ¤£ðŸ¤£— Your Friendâ€™s Friend (@walkgoodetienne) May 4, 2022
Of course, this looks like the second to worst hypothetical following The Slap, which is that comedians would suddenly be fair game for on stage attacks (the worst being what if someone slapped Betty White and she died of a brain bleed). Security rushed the stage, including Chappelle’s personal security and Jamie Foxx (???), and the man was, er, dealt with and arrested. You can see him being carted off on a stretcher here, but fair warning for bones going the wrong way:
Man That Attacked Dave Chappelle At His Show At Hollywood Bowl Has Hands Broken and Dislocated pic.twitter.com/ZvPgjdV5gz— raphousetv (@raphousetv2) May 4, 2022
The temptation is obviously to say that because of what happened at the Oscars, this now happened to Dave Chappelle. But we can’t say these two things are related any more than we can say they’re not related because we don’t have any information yet on why that guy rushed Chappelle on stage. What is clear is that there is an anger boiling over at every level of society in America, and comedians aren’t safe on stage just like flight attendants aren’t safe on airplanes or grocery store workers aren’t safe in the produce section. We’ve always been a rather snarly, surly lot, but the last couple years have broken us in a way that has unleashed something really dark into the public sphere, and I don’t know if this genie is ever going back in the bottle. It bears repeating: America is trapped in a bad marriage with itself, and sh-t is only going to keep getting weirder and darker.
As for Chappelle, he released a statement saying, “The performances by Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl were epic and record-breaking and he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment,” referencing Chappelle’s four-night sellout of the Bowl, ranking him alongside Monty Python as the comedian with the most headlining shows at the Bowl. People think Chappelle has been cancelled because there has been pushback against his anti-trans “jokes”, but he has only been cancelled if some value of “cancelled” is “headlining multiple shows at the Hollywood Bowl during a massive comedy festival”. Not addressed in his statement is his comment immediately after recovering from being knocked down, when Chappelle “joked” that, “It was a trans man.”
That seems to be getting lost in the churn as people belabor The Slap and wonder What It All Means that comedians are now being assaulted on stage. I’m seeing a lot of sturm und drang about the breakdown of public decency—this country was founded by genocidal maniacs who loved doing property crimes, WHAT PUBLIC DECENCY?—but I’m not seeing much of that energy thrown in defense of the trans community, once again the butt of a bad Chappelle joke. Of course, performers of any ilk should be able to get on stage without worrying about their physical safety, but it would also be nice if one of the most famous comedians in the world would stop picking on an already vulnerable community. Two things can be true: It sucks Dave Chappelle got tackled on stage, and it sucks he made another sh-tty anti-trans comment.