The comic was performing at the Netflix Is a Joke festival at the Hollywood Bowl when someone in the audience jumped onto the stage, ran at Chappelle, and, knocked him to the ground, according to BuzzFeed News reporter Brianna Sacks, who was at the show.
Chappelle was just about to introduce performances by hip-hop artists yasiin bey and Talib Kweli when the man attacked him. Security team members sprinted on stage from all directions, chasing the man as the Chappelle regained composure. Gasps and shouts could be heard across the venue as the crowd watched, stunned. A group of about 10 people then started beating the man in the back right corner of the stage, punching and kicking him while he was on the ground.
"I am going to kill that motherfucker," Chappelle said before walking closer to the scuffle, adding, "Wait, I got to see this."
Returning to talk to his riled audience, the comedian joked, "thank God he was clumsy," and told the crowd the attacker was "back there getting stomped."
"Where the fuck did he come from?" Chappelle wondered.
The Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed the incident and said that the male suspect was armed with a replica gun that could eject a knife blade. It is not known whether he attempted to use the weapon when attacking Chappelle, who authorities confirmed was not injured.
Before the onstage attack, Chappelle, who has faced fierce rebuke for comments he made about transgender people during a Netflix special, joked about having more security onstage because of the danger comedians now face after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, who also performed at the show. Toward the end of his performance, Chappelle told a story about how a man showed up at his house while he and his wife were home.
The attack was stunning to watch, and at first, it was difficult for the audience to discern what was going on. Chappelle had just ended his set and the crowd was moving toward the exits when the comedian came back onstage for an encore. He started to introduce musicians Talib Kweli and Mos Def when a man suddenly leaped up from the pit on the left side of the stage and charged at Chappelle with his head down. The comedian tried to dodge the tackle but was knocked over. The two scuffled while security sprinted from across the stage.
Once free, Chappelle moved back to the center of the stage as a crowd of people cornered the attacker in the back. The group then started kicking and punching him while he was on the ground as Chappelle, stunned, looked on and kept going with the show. At one point, Chappelle walked up closer to see the confrontation and mentioned a few times how he had "stomped" the attacker.
The shocking incident brought a swarm of people on stage, including Jamie Foxx, who then took the mic and said, "Nigga, I thought that was part of the show," before trailing off. He then went on to tell the cheering crowd that Chappelle was "an absolute genius," adding, "We have to make sure we protect him at all times."
Chris Rock also came back onstage, and the two comedians joked about the attacker potentially being "Will." Chappelle also made a joke about him being transgender.
"It was — it was a trans man," he said as the crowd laughed.
At the beginning of his set, the comedian addressed the issue, saying that he originally had nothing against trans people and wished that they had watched the entire special until the end instead of taking specific jokes out of context. But after the community tried to cancel him, he joked that now he does have an issue with the transgender community.
In the past, Chappelle has faced severe criticism for a Netflix special in which he repeatedly joked about trans people. Netflix employees walked out and demanded that their employer remove the special. The media giant has refused to do so.