On Saturday night, just four days after Dave Chappelle was attacked onstage at the Hollywood Bowl, John Mulaney took the stage at the iconic Los Angeles venue to heightened awareness around security and safety measures.
Performing as part of the Netflix is a Joke festival, of which Chappelle had also played four nights, Mulaney marked the first comedian back at the venue since the assault; rapper Russ also played the Bowl on Thursday without incident.
Chappelle was assaulted on Tuesday when a man rushed the Hollywood Bowl stage and tackled him to the floor. The comedian had finished his act and was exiting the stage, the LAPD said in an updated statement on Wednesday, when the audience member jumped onto the stage, tackled the comedian and pointed a replica handgun at Chappelle. Security separated the audience member from Chappelle and took him into custody.
As had been previously implemented at Chappelle’s shows, guests for Saturday’s show were required to go through metal detectors and bag checks and have their phones placed in locked pouches, with tight security inside the amphitheater. The usual wood paneling that separates the front row “pool circle” seats from the stage was replaced by a fence, with 10 security guards lining the stage from below and additional security in the second level seats and in the wings. One Bowl staffer awning THR these were increased guard numbers while another said it was about typical of a usual night at the venue. It was, though, clearly on the minds of most attendees and performers.
Mulaney teased about the incident without mentioning Chappelle by name, joking at one point during the show, “we have great security. This fence is so jumpable it’s crazy,” noting he could clear it even with bad hips. He then issued a mock challenge to the crowd: “No one’s going to do anything. You don’t have the balls.”
“Would be great publicity for whatever your cause is,” he continued, seemingly referencing Chappelle’s reveal at a stand-up show on Thursday that his attacker told him he had pulled the stunt for attention to his grandmother’s plight after she was forced out of her Brooklyn neighborhood by gentrification. “But you don’t have the fucking balls. Your mother was right about you.”
Comedian Earthquake, who appeared as a special guest during Mulaney’s show and had also been part of Chappelle’s set on Tuesday, made reference to the incident as well, calling the man “a ninja who jumped from rows out” and whose “face changed once he got close.” And actor and comedian Seaton Smith, who opened the show, acknowledged how “with extra beefed up security it’s wonderful to be here,” joking that he had listed his 14 cousins as guards.
The suspect in the Chappelle attack, later identified to be Isaiah Lee, 23, was charged with four misdemeanors and on Friday entered not guilty pleas to charges of battery, possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault unlawfully crossing from a spectator area onto a stage at a theatrical event and interfering with or delaying such an event with unlawful conduct.
Following the incident, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which owns the Hollywood Bowl, said it was “reviewing our existing procedures both internally and with the assistance of outside experts so we can continue to provide a safe and secure environment at the Hollywood Bowl. We have implemented additional security measures, including an increased number of security personnel on-site to assist with bag checks and other security procedures. We continue to cooperate with authorities in their ongoing investigation.”