An audience member stormed the stage while Chappelle, 48, was performing, lunged at him and tackled him to the ground, video on social media shows.
The venue’s security detained 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, LAPD Officer Rosario Cervantes told USA TODAY Wednesday. Police arrested Lee, who was carrying a replica handgun, and charged him with assault with a deadly weapon.
Chappelle was not injured. Lee was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, police say.
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Netflix Is A Joke, Hollywood Bowl and Chappelle for comment.
Ahmed Ali, who attended the show, told USA TODAY “it was crazy.”
“There was a lot of confusion,” the 36-year-old said. “I think we all thought, at first, that it was part of the show.”
Ali said Chappelle was introducing rap duo Black Star, made up of Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli, when the attacker jumped up on stage.
“The guy tried to tackle Dave, and Dave sidestepped,” Ali said, noting the attacker was then “corralled” by security and chased backstage. Chappelle joined his security team backstage as they surrounded the individual.
Ali said actor and singer Jamie Foxx, who came on stage after the altercation, was also confused and questioned if the attack was staged.
According to social media video, Chappelle joked after the incident that the attacker “was a trans man,” a reference to the backlash the comedian received following his controversial jokes about the transgender community in Netflix special “The Closer.”
Buzzfeed News reporter Briana Sacks, who also attended the festival, tweeted about the attack saying the comedian previously talked about how he has had to beef up his security.
“What is really surreal about this is that Chapelle 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 tweeted.
When Chappelle returned to the stage, Ali said he addressed the crowd saying he’s been doing comedy a long time and that was the first time he jumped someone backstage.
While video of the attack was shown on social media, Ali said like many comedy shows he’s been to in LA, phone use was prohibited.
“When you go to (shows) you have to put your cellphone and smartwatches in a magnetically-sealed bag,” Ali said. “I saw videos on Twitter, maybe some people snuck their phones in or they pried open the bag — it was pretty hard to (open the bag), we tried.”
Chris Rock, who performed earlier that day, later joined Chappelle on stage and joked, “Was that Will Smith?” according to NPR, referring to the Oscars incident when Smith slapped Rock on stage after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
Ali voiced concerns about whether comedians would continue coming back to LA following both incidents.
Chappelle sparked outrage and debate for remarks he made about the LGBTQ+ community, specifically the transgender community, in the “The Closer,” which aired in October. In the Netflix special, the comedian attempted to juxtapose the pace of civil rights gained by LGBTQ people over those fought for by the Black community and expressed solidarity with “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who drew backlash in 2019 for comments about gender. The comments spurred walkouts from Netflix employees.
‘You will not summon me’: Dave Chappelle on engaging with trans community; fired Netflix employee speaks
Contributing: Charles Trepany