In Private Meeting, Dave Chappelle Asked His Attacker Why He Did It

Chappelle offered further details of the Hollywood Bowl incident during a secret show at the Comedy Store on Thursday

Comedian Dave Chappelle came face-to-face with 23-year-old Isaiah Lee—the knife wielding man who tackled him onstage while he was performing Tuesday at the Hollywood Bowl—shortly after the incident and asked him what provoked the attack, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

During a “secret show” at the Comedy Store in the club’s 70-seat Belly Room, Chappelle said he managed to convince Los Angeles police to allow him to enter the room where Lee was being held.

“I needed to talk to him,” Chappelle explained to the intimate crowd, which included a host of celebrities including Sean “Diddy” Combs, rapper Yasiin Bey, Kim Kardashian, and comedian Jeff Ross, THR notes.

When Chappelle asked Lee what prompted the attack, Lee—who Chappelle said appeared to him to be mentally ill—shared a story about his grandmother from Brooklyn, who had been forced out of her neighborhood by gentrification. The assault was apparently meant to draw attention to her predicament, Chappelle recounted.

Lee was initially arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, but Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón declined to charge him with a felony. Since Gascón doesn’t prosecute misdemeanors within the city of Los Angeles, L. A. City Attorney Mike Feuer filed has filed four misdemeanor charges against him, including battery and possession of a weapon with intent to assault, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A Los Angeles judge on Friday ordered Lee to stay at least 100 yards away from Chappelle and the Hollywood Bowl where the attack occurred, ABC7 reports.

Prosecutors did not list a motive for the attack, but they noted that Lee, who is an aspiring rapper, had recorded a song in 2020 titled “Dave Chappell.”

“None of the lyrics, tone or language of the song suggested any threats or hatred towards the victim, Dave Chappelle,” according to a report released Thursday evening.

During Thursday’s stand-up set, Chappelle was joined onstage by Chris Rock. The two comedians traded jokes about their shared experiences of recently being assaulted, according to THR.

“At least you got smacked by someone by repute!” Chappelle said to Rock, referring to the Will Smith Oscar attack. “I got smacked by a homeless guy with leaves in his hair.”

Rock laughed, saying, “I got smacked by the softest n—a that ever rapped.”

The comics eventually started discussing other topics including the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard libel trial and the looming threat to Roe v. Wade, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But the conversation quickly shifted back to focus on Chappelle’s attack and the city where it occurred.

“I am in the [place] where you sat in the car with Biggie Smalls as he died,” Chappelle said towards the end of his set, glancing over at Combs. “I hate this city.”

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