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Dave Chappelle Attacked on Stage in LA - The Controversy around the Comedian’s Latest Special 'the Closer'

Busayo Ogunjimi
May 05, 2022
03:40 P.M.
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Controversial stand-up comedian Dave Chapelle was attacked while performing at the Hollywood Bowl in LA, but the incident did not surprise many. He is famous for ruffling the feathers of many minority groups — here is everything we know about his latest controversy.


He was one of many who had the honor of showcasing their craft at the Netflix Is A Joke comedy festival at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. 

However, when the comedian started his performance, just like he had for several days that month, he was suddenly beset by a man who lept up on stage and tackled him.

Comedian Dave Chapelle performs at Radio City Music Hall on June 19, 2014. | Source: Getty Images


According to sources from the police force, the assailant had a knife shaped like a gun in his possession when he was arrested.

Attendees were not supposed to be able to use their phones; however, some people were able to get short clips of what happened

One video footage showed a man barging onto the stage and knocking down the stunned comedian before getting up and trying to run for it. The man did not make it too far because security personnel and members of Chapelle's entourage tackled him down.

Dave Chappelle on stage at the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Award Ceremony at Harvard University on October 11, 2018. | Source: Getty Images


That same night, many who had witnessed the mischief took to social media to talk about it, with most claiming that the pair had a tussle on the ground right there on the stage before the stranger tried to make his exit.

It was a stunning turn of events, but Chapelle was professional enough to handle it; he recovered very quickly and even made a joke about how it had been a "trans-man."

The LAPD has been able to identify the suspect as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, and he is reportedly being held in jail on a $30,000 (£24,000) bond.

Dave Chappelle attends the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards. | Source: Getty Images


After Lee's attack, Chris Rock, who also has experience when it comes to getting assaulted on stage thanks to Will Smith, went up to meet Chapelle and was heard asking if that was Will Smith.

Since he received the slap from Smith, the talented comedian has avoided talking too much about it in public. Even though Variety reported his statement, it is still debated whether he let that slip.

Dave Chappelle at the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images



People who have ever listened to Dave Chappell's performance usually react in one of two ways — they can either be incredibly impressed or be left very angry.

In fact, throughout his career, he has taken pride in crafting jokes that easily offend or point out an uncomfortable truth.

His latest project, "The Closer," has the same kind of jokes, but this time he addresses his love-hate relationship with the LGBTQ community while setting the records straight about some jokes he made in the past that could easily have been misconstrued.


Dave Chappelle at the "A Star Is Born" premiere after party on Sept. 9, 2018, in Toronto, Canada. | Source: Getty Images

He may have meant to use it as an olive branch to his most vicious critics, but in the end, the whole project only drew the ire of the collective minority groups. It was released on October 5, 2021, and had many people from the LGBTQ clamoring for its removal from their services.


Fortunately for Chapelle, Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos chose to support him and even vowed to keep it up regardless of what anyone had to say or how much criticism the company had to endure.

Nevertheless, his behavior was shocking to many, especially since Chapelle did make several jokes at the expense of the LGBTQ during his 70-minute performance. 

Dave Chappelle and wife Elaine attend the NBA All-Star Game 2018 on February 18, 2018 | Source: Getty Images


For instance, the comedian revealed that he had no idea what a "transphobic" meant until those words were hurled at him after one show nearly two decades ago. He argued that people didn't wait to digest his jokes, so they misunderstood and referred to him as a transphobic person.

He also confessed that he couldn't help but feel uncomfortable at being manipulated into referring to a trans woman as beautiful.

However, he compares them to white people wearing black faces. He has always had a bone to pick with white people, especially those who think it's okay to "be minorities until they need to be white once more."


Dave Chappelle with wife Elaine Chappelle and daughter Sonal Chappelle at The John F. Kennedy Center on October 18, 2015 | Source: Getty Images

He rounded up the special by talking about Daphne Dorman, a trans comedian he befriended in San Francisco who went on to open for him one night at a comedy club, after which they enjoyed a talk right there on stage about the trans identity. 


At the end of it, they could reach an agreement; he would respect her simply because she was human, and she would do the same.

Unfortunately, Dorman died the following month after receiving backlash from the LGBTQ because she posted positive things about him on social media. 

Dave Chappelle at the Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2022/2023 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 20, 2022 in Paris, France. | Source: Getty Images


The heat he received increased as the special went viral. Still, Netflix refused to take it down and even went as far as allegedly taking action against two employees who sought to speak about the working conditions they were facing.

As a result, both employees filed a labor charge that accused the company of retaliating against them for protected activities.

Netflix denied the allegation, and proof revealed that the employees only got punished for going too far in their alleged pursuit of social justice.

Dave Chappelle speaks onstage during the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on October 30, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. | Source: Getty Images



Besides his provocating performance on "The Closer," Chapelle has had many other previous clashes and controversies that challenge some of the new societal norms, including cancel culture, minority activists, and the #MeToo movement.

In "Sticks and Stones," the album version of his 2019 Netflix comedy special, he mocked the men who accused Michael Jackson of child sex abuse in the documentary "Leaving Neverland." He even called the whole project "gross" and urged those listening not to give it a watch. 

He also declared that the way the media overreacted in response to Jackson and R.Kelly's cases even though he seemed to agree that R.Kelly did what they said he did. It ruffled many feathers, but it had become a tradition with Chapelle.


Dave Chappelle at the UK premiere of "Dave Chappelle: Untitled" at Cineworld Leicester Square on October 17, 2021 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

In 2018, the New York Times called out the stand-up comedian for his "bad attempts" to joke about the #MeToo movement in two different 2018 Netflix specials.


But, of course, some other media moguls defended his humor, stating that the provocative take was the whole point of his jokes. 

Despite the constant heat, Chappelle has proven that he can stand his ground. His latest controversial special may be the last time he will directly butt heads with the LGBTQ society, but it will be around for a long time if Netflix has anything to say about it.

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