Netflix has issued a statement after Dave Chappelle was attacked on stage while performing a comedy set during the streaming giant’s Netflix Is a Joke festival in Los Angeles. The performance was taking place at the Hollywood Bowl. A spokesperson for the streamer said, “We care deeply about the safety of creators and we strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage without fear of violence.”
Video footage circulated during Chappelle’s comedy set showing a man rushing on to the stage and tackling the performer to the ground. Chappelle has been performing a number of dates at the Hollywood Bowl in the last month. The attacker was seen getting up and trying to run off stage before he was caught and tackled by what appeared to be security personnel and members of Chappelle’s team.
A Hollywood Bowl spokesperson told news agency PA Media following the incident that an investigation into the attack had been opened, adding, “The incident that occurred at the Hollywood Bowl on May 3, 2022, is an active investigation and we are unable to comment further at this time.”
Chappelle has been a controversial figure recently due to several Netflix comedy specials in which he made jokes about transgender people. His 2021 Netflix special “The Closer” led to company walkouts and protests last October. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos originally defended Chappelle, saying in statement that the comedian is “one of the most popular stand-ups today” and “as with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.” Sarandos ultimately said he “screwed up” in his reaction to the Chappelle backlash.
Chappelle’s attack took place just over a month after Will Smith took to the Oscars stage to slap presenter Chris Rock, who was in attendance at Chappelle’s Netflix show and reportedly came on stage after the attack and said, “Was that Will Smith?”
The Netflix Is a Joke comedy festival kicked off April 28 and runs through May 8.