Comedian Dave Chappelle's recent performance at the Hollywood Bowl was quickly overshadowed when an audience member gained access to the stage and attacked the comedian in the middle of his set.
And now the comedian is once again generating controversy after defusing the chaos that ensued with a joke about trans people that has angered many LGBTQ+ people and allies.
After the knife-wielding man tackled Chappelle and was quickly subdued by security during his set at the Netflix Is a Joke Festival at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl, Chappelle joked to the audience the attacker was a trans man.
See video of the incident and the joke below.
Vamping while security took the assailant down backstage, Chappelle eased the tension with the audience with a number of jokes about the harrowing incident.
After wondering aloud where the attacker came from, Chappelle said:
"It was a trans man."
The comment was a reference to the infamous controversy regarding Chappelle's fall 2021 Netflix special The Closer.
In it Chappelle made a number of jokes about trans people that outraged many viewers and activists, including discussing trans people's genitals and claiming to be a TERF, or Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.
The controversy resulted in several LGBTQ+ and allied employees at Netflix quitting and staging walkouts in protest of CEO Ted Sarandos' refusal to remove the special, and a wave of high-profile criticisms from Chappelle's fellow stars and comedians.
The joke at the Hollywood Bowl has put even more attention on what was a shocking incident where chaos briefly consumed.
The man who assaulted Chappelle, who was carrying a replica gun that contained a hidden knife, was thankfully quickly subdued by a retinue of security aided by fellow comedian Jamie Foxx, who was watching from the wings.
They began "punching and kicking the sh*t out of" the attacker according to BuzzFeed's Brianna Sacks, who attended the show.
Of Foxx's heroism, Chappelle quipped to the audience:
“Whenever you’re in trouble, Jamie Foxx will show up in a sheriff’s hat."
Foxx replied that, like most of the audience, he initially thought the attack was just part of Chappelle's set.
But the all-too-real nature of the attack became clear outside the venue, where several videos of the attacker being taken away in an ambulance with serious injuries exploded onto social media.
The attacker, 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, is a rapper and supporter of former Republican President Donald Trump who rapped about attacking Chappelle at "the Bowl" in 2020, likely in reference to a performance that year that was canceled due to the pandemic. He has since been arrested.
As the initial shock of the incident has subsided, anger over Chappelle's joke about trans people has begun to take center stage.
Chappelle has chosen not to comment on the controversy, focusing instead on what was a record-breaking performance at which he tied Monty Python's record for the most headlined shows by a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl.
Via his rep, Chappelle said, "he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment."