Kevin Hart is weighing in after Dave Chappelle was attacked onstage earlier this week while performing a set at the Hollywood Bowl for the Netflix Is a Joke Fest.
Hart was a Jimmy Kimmel Live! guest Thursday, where guest host Mike Birbiglia, who is filling in for Jimmy Kimmel during his bout with COVID-19, mentioned that he thought the incident involving Chappelle “was so scary.” Hart replied that he didn’t find it scary but was glad that the attacker was roughed up by security: “Somebody getting their ass whipped sends a message out to other people that was like, ‘You know, I was thinking about doing that, but seeing that, I don’t really want to do that.’”
The Jumanji star commended Chappelle for continuing his show, which tied Chappelle with Monty Python for the most headlining comedy performances at the storied venue. “I think that the world that we’re in right now, there’s a lot of lines that have gotten blurred, and sometimes you got to take a couple steps backwards to take some steps forwards,” Hart said. “Dave went back after that and finished doing the show. Didn’t let that thing be a big thing. Quickly moved on from it and got back to doing comedy, and that’s what a professional does. Ultimately, these moments of unprofessionalism should not break professionals. They shouldn’t shape or mold the world that we’re now being seen or viewed in. It’s time to get back to a place of respect for your live entertainer.”
After recalling a time when Hart himself was hit by a buffalo wing thrown by an audience member, he pointed out that heckling has been a longstanding part of the live-comedy experience. “Comedian has always dealt with heckler; heckler has always shouted out things because he felt that he could,” Hart said. “A comedian’s way of shutting that down was to say things back. It wasn’t bullying. It wasn’t picking on. It was all done in fun. We’ve now lost sight of the relationship of audience to comedian, and that line has gotten blurred to where it’s like, ‘Well, I don’t need to do this and like this, and I can stand up and make a point.’”
He continued, “It becomes a hard case of, why did you come? Why did you buy a ticket if that was your want or need? When I say we need to get back to the place of respecting the entertainer, respect the craft. If you’re coming, come to have a good time and enjoy the person that you saw. If you have no interest in that, you don’t have to buy a ticket. You don’t have to go.”
Chappelle was performing Tuesday when a man rushed the stage, tackling him to the ground and pointing a replica firearm at the star, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, before security was able to step in and bring the individual backstage. The suspect, later identified as Isaiah Lee, 23, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. After the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday it declined to pursue felony charges, the L.A. City Attorney’s Office filed four misdemeanor charges against Lee.
A statement issued Wednesday by Chappelle’s team said that the performer “refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment.”